Rudolph is in his mid-thirties, and is from Pretoria, South Africa. For many people, Africa sounds exotic and exciting, but Rudolph does not have a particularly unusual life-story, or any amazing experiences to tell about. What he does want to tell us about is the gospel that he has come to treasure so much.
“My name is Rudolph. I am from Pretoria, South Africa, and I am very excited about the gospel!”
That is an unusual way to introduce oneself, so I ask him to explain himself. What is this gospel? And why is he so excited about it?
Why is he excited about the gospel?
“The gospel makes you happy. Always happy! It makes you thankful. Always thankful! It makes no difference what happens to me, whether people treat me right or treat me wrong. The gospel makes it so I can be happy in the situations I am in—that God has put me in. I do not need the situations or the people around me to change—I can change, and be happy.
“The gospel is that I can do God’s will and I no longer have to do my own will. I can focus on what is working in me—the Spirit that speaks to me and that can lead me to a life. I must be obedient to it. I can exercise myself in setting my thoughts in Heaven, where Jesus is, and get a renewed thought life.
Happy in all kinds of situations
“If I live according to my feelings, then I do not believe, but if I believe even though I do not feel like it, then it is possible to overcome sin.”
“Victory over sin. Victory over my lusts and desires. Victory over my tendencies.”
Rudolph grew up in a home where his mother and father practiced this, and they were happy people. Nevertheless, he would lie in his bed at night with an inner sadness, because he knew that his life was not full of joy and peace. The life he saw in his parents and friends convinced him of a new and better way to live life.
The gospel that he speaks about has clearly made an impression on him. But what about a typical Monday morning, when he is tired and his feelings are not cooperating. Then what? Is he still just as enthusiastic?
“It is a bad idea to live according to your feelings. They lie to you. No, I can rather use God’s Word as an anchor that cannot be moved.”
He shows me a Word of God that he has used himself many times when his feelings and reasoning tell him that he is having a bad day, “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24.
“God has made this day for me. He has a plan, in fact. He has prepared everything. This also applies to the days you dread something, or you know something will happen that you would prefer to avoid.
God has hopeful thoughts about us
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“God has these hopeful thoughts about us—a hopeful future. His thoughts are about our success. That it is possible for us to follow in the Jesus’ footsteps. How stupid it is, then, to have your own thoughts, such as, ‘It’s not going to work today,’ or, ‘I will have to be a sinner the rest of my life.’
It would have been strange if Jesus had opened a way for us here on earth, and had left us footsteps, if He had then sat in heaven and thought, ‘Sure, you can try, but it’s not going to succeed for you.’ But the truth is that He has thoughts of victory for you. He knows it can succeed for you to overcome in all of life’s circumstances. You just have to believe that!”
I have met many exciting people in my life, each one with a more exciting and inspiring life’s story than the last. Rudolph did not tell me any such stories; nevertheless, it is clear that he has an incredibly interesting life. The gospel makes a difference in his life—a difference that consists of finding Jesus’ footsteps and walking in them in his daily circumstances. Jesus was tried in all the same points we are tried in, but He always overcame; it is in these footsteps that we can follow. So, perhaps it is not so difficult to understand why Rudolph is so enthusiastic about the gospel.