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Reconciled to God, to the group , and to myself

E.Stanley Jones as a young man

This class meeting, where we told our successes and failures, our joys and our problems, became for me the germ of an idea which has blossomed into a world movement — the Christian Ashram movement. Everyone needs a close-knit fellowship to which he is responsible and which is responsible to him. I found it in the class meetings. And found it when I needed it most.

I always looked forward with joy to tell of the victories of the week. For there were victories, almost continuous victories. For months after conversion I was running under cloudless skies.

And then suddenly I tripped, almost fell, pulled back this side of the sin, but was shaken and humiliated that I could come that close to sin. I thought I was emancipated and found I wasn’t. I went to the class meeting — I’m grateful I didn’t stay away — went, but my music had gone. I had hung my harp on a weeping willow tree.

As the others spoke of their joys and victories of the week, I sat there with the tears rolling down my cheeks. I was heartbroken. After the others had spoke, John Zink, the class leader, said: “Now, Stanley, tell us what is the matter.” I told them I couldn’t, but would they please pray for me?

Like one man they fell to their knees, and they lifted me back to the bosom of God by faith and love. When we got up from our knees, I was reconciled to my heavenly Father, to the group, and to myself. I was reconciled. The universe opened its arms and took me in again. The estrangement was gone. . .

That was a very crucial moment in my life. . . My destiny was in the hands of that group. I was a very bruised reed; suppose they had broken me?. . . But they never uttered a criticism, or even thought of one, as far as I could see. The reaction was nothing but redemptive love. . . I saw and experienced the power of redemptive love incarnate in a group.

From “A Song of Ascents: A Spiritual Autobiography” by E. Stanley Jones

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