I wanted to share a section of Jared Wilson’s wonderful book Gospel Wakefulness in which Wilson distinguishes between salvation and what he calls “gospel wakefulness.” I’ve been meditating a lot on this passage over the past couple of days:
I am not talking about waxing and waning feelings of intimacy with God, movements of worship, or the sort of experiences that lead to “rededicating one’s life” (and rededicating more after that), but an experience of such power—of such awakening—that it persists and endures, settling deep into the heart and the conscience of a believer that it carries through all emotional highs and lows. And yet, again, this is not a second conversion experience, as it were, but rather a deeper and fuller appreciation of the first and only necessary conversion, a greater vision of what we perhaps only barely and minimally perceived upon salvation (comparatively speaking).
Imagine you are driving down the road and your car stalls at a railroad crossing. You are understandably nervous as you try to reignite the car’s engine, but you become even more so when you see a train turn the corner in the distance and begin quickly closing the gap between it and you. The train engine’s horn is blaring and the engineer has thrown on the brakes, but you are too close and he’s coming too fast. You move from trying to get the car to start to trying to unfasten your seatbelt, but fear has made your hands stiffen and shake. You can’t get your seatbelt unfastened. The train is rushing toward you, and you know you’re going to be hit. And you are. Suddenly and from behind. A man in a truck behind you has decided to ram into your car and push you off the tracks, even as he is destroyed by the impact in the very spot you once occupied.
You get out of the car, shaken and still frightened. You are terrified by the gruesome scene, in shock over your rescuer’s sacrifice. You are grateful in a way you’ve never been grateful before. You wish you could thank the driver of the truck for saving your life. Even in your terrified awe, it feels good to be alive. You feel woozy, so you sit down on the trunk of your car, and as you’re trying to retrieve your cell phone from your pocket to call 911 and marveling at how little damage the violent shove did to the rear bumper, you hear a whimper from inside.
You didn’t know that before you’d left the house, as your kids were playing hide-and-seek, your youngest son decided to hide in the trunk of your car. As you open it up frantically and discover that he is miraculously unharmed, you suddenly realize the total greatness of the loss you almost suffered. Your gratitude, your amazement, your new outlook on life takes a giant leap forward. That is the difference between the gospel wakefulness of conversion and the greater gospel wakefulness that often occurs later.
- Read Gospel Wakefulness