I recently got an opportunity to teach a small bible study group at church while one of the ministers was on vacation. It went very well and I had a good time preparing a message. I really enjoy speaking, and it is one of the things I feel fairly confident doing.
I spoke about how it is God's nature to bless people, its what he likes to do, and it is an extension of who he is. I tried to encourage them about believing more in him as a person so that the promises of God are easier to trust in.
After the lesson was over I spent some time talking to the people that came. People want to ask questions, or share something they felt that added to the message, or in some instances explain why you were wrong and needed to see things their way (doesn't happen much, but anyone who ever teaches the bible will have it happen now and then).
There was a lady that stayed at the back of the group, but I saw her edging closer as the people thinned out. She was not very remarkable looking, average height, average brunette hair, and kept her head down to keep from making eye contact with many people.
When the rest of the people left I finally shook her hand and asked her if there was anything I could do for her, since it was obvious that she was lingering for some reason. She apologized for making so much eye contact while I was speaking, and said it made people nervous from time to time. I said it was ok, and I didn't notice. She asked several questions about different things, how I got the opportunity to speak, and some other things I won't go into.
Then she finally got to what she wanted to talk to me about, she has been struggling with guilt, and not knowing whether God loves her, or if she would go to Heaven or not. She explained how she has been wandering in a land of guilt, confusion, and dread. My heart really went out to her. I've been there, had a passport to that same dark country of guilt and depression. I've even visited it from time to time. But somewhere in my travels I finally truly met Christ, and understood his sacrifice for all that it was.
But it wasn't some one time prayer, or one time bible study that did the trick. It was a process, it was a journey, there was very little instantaneous about it. I just "woke up" one day realizing I had not felt that same oppressive guilt for some time, and it was replaced by peace and hope.
I wished I could reach through her head and pull out the junk that was keeping her from seeing the truth, but there was I very little I could do. There was no magic faith pill. I did all I could do. I listened to what she had to say, and prayed with her. I explained I had felt the same way, and that she was not alone. I even explained how I went to a counselor for a while and it really made a difference. She shook my hand and then turned a left the room.
I lose hope sometimes, and can feel lost in what I'm doing on this earth, but my eternity is always secure. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
But I had forgotten what it felt like to feel that completely and utterly lost and without hope. At least I know my purgatory will end, but there people in this world who have no idea if they will ever find hope in this world, or the world to come....
Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.
By Rage Against The Machine