On this day, April 24, 1771, John Wesley shared the word of God with a faithful few who withstood the cold and wind to hear what he had to say. Here’s his account:
In the evening I knew not where to preach at Enniscorthy, the wind being very high and very cold. But I was in some measure sheltered by the side of a house; and the people standing close together, sheltered one another. Only a few careless ones were blown away.
There’s nothing more heart-breaking than to watch people fall away from faith or the Church because of their failure to hold fast or stay at attention and lean into what it is that God has to say. God is speaking, through the best and worst of times, whether in outright sunshine or harsh freezing winds, and those who huddle together, finding whatever they can to take the edge off the wind are the ones who will endure.
12 And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come. —Matthew 24
Jesus says that in the End there will be many who’s love of God grows cold. The trouble is, we see it even now. Whether we’re at the beginning of the End or just a tick mark on the time-scale, faithfulness is our goal. From the introduction to the maps, the Bible is a story of God’s unfailing faithfulness and our inability to reciprocate. But then enters the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Through Christ, we have access to a love and faith like we’ve never known and never can know on our own. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (God’s presence that resides in our hearts; see John 14.23), we can return the love of God and hold fast, even in the worst of times. That love will outlast the wind and the cold and our faith will be the side of house that blocks the weather. The Church serves as our “huddle,” giving us the support that we need to make it through.
If Wesley’s hearers had stuck around long enough to let the Good News sink in, they may have learned that faith is both our responsibility and God’s gracious gift. It seems like a paradox, I know. But every relationship revolves around both parties putting the other first. One can and many times is won-over when the unfailing, undying devotion of the lover seems to woo them back in. It’s beautiful. This is how it is with God.
Listen up: spiritually speaking, it’s cold and windy outside. Find a house; find a huddle; brave the weather; and receive the Word. Have a great rest of the week.