“The salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world.” —C.S. Lewis.
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” —C.S. Lewis.
PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
“O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding that we may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever, AMEN.”
SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)
PRAYER FOCUS: Witnessing to the People in Our Lives
The reality of his impending death had not fully sunk in, but it was gathering weight by the minute…
For eighty-five years, Dave had almost never been at a loss for words. He was, as they used to say, as smart as a whip. He was a voracious reader. His mind had accumulated an incredible amount of knowledge—so much that his six grown children referred to him as “Google Before Google”. No one had played Trivial Pursuit with him since 1993. If Dave couldn’t answer a question outright he could usually deflect until the answer either came to him or he could work his way around it.
But the question had stopped him cold: “Dad, where do you stand with the Lord?”
This was the second time in three weeks he was in a hospital ICU room. For the past eight years, he had been fighting a disease called multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. He couldn’t quite beat in into remission, but he had already lived far beyond the life expectancy of most with this disease. And he had always rallied to come back.
It wasn’t like Dave didn’t know about Jesus. Throughout his childhood, his parents had dragged him to Sunday School and church. He’d heard all the usual Bible stories and could still recite most of them. He reckoned he’d read the Bible more than most Christians he knew. He knew about salvation and the Cross and all that—at least in theory. He didn’t dispute anything in the Bible. He even believed that it was true.
Dave had always had an independent streak. Some might call him stubborn, but he preferred the terms well-read and self-reliant. He had never needed anyone to save him from anything. In fact, he couldn’t exactly remember when, or if, he’d ever asked anyone for help. He had lived his life pretty much on his own terms, and felt no need to apologize–until now.
His daughter and son-in-law were kneeling next to his hospital bed, looking him straight in the eye. He knew they were not perfect, but they were serious about their faith in Jesus Christ. And right now Dave knew two things: 1) these two loved and respected him very much, and 2) they were very serious about the answer to their question.
“I don’t suppose I know.” It was the truth. And it dawned on him that maybe he ought to get serious about this, too.
“We don’t feel comfortable with that, Dad. We won’t feel comfortable until you are certain. It’s your choice, of course, but we want you to make the right one.” They gave him what he used to call the “elevator speech” about being saved. It was far from perfect. But it got the point across. And they loved him enough to ask him the question.
When Dave started to speak again the words caught in his throat. His eyes filled with tears. “I just don’t want to seem like an opportunist, jumping on at the end of the ride and everything.” In other words, I know I need Jesus, but I’ve done it my way so long I’m embarrassed to ask for his help.
They assured him he was no more opportunistic than any of us. They told him further that the Lord loved him more than he could imagine, and that he has been waiting all these years for him to take this opportunity. Eternal Life was his for the asking—but he had to ask.
Dave nodded his assent. The three of them held hands while he prayed, “Jesus I believe…take your place in my life.”
After praying, they read him the Bible passages about all heaven rejoicing (Luke 15:7, Zeph 3:17).
That day would be Dave’s last “good day”. The disease was moving faster than anyone had thought. By the end of the next day, he would not be conversant. Five days after that he would pass quietly from this life to the next.
This is a true story. Dave is my father-in-law. On the day after tomorrow, we will bury him in the same cemetery with his parents, who will be overjoyed to see him in heaven.
Shortly after my wife and I prayed with her dad, one of his neighbors walked in the room. He got right down to business. “Dave, I want to talk to you about Jesus Christ and His promise of salvation.” Dad smiled and told him he’d just prayed for that.
Still later that evening, Dad’s brother-in-law (and best friend) came in and asked the same question.
In retrospect, we find it reassuring to see other people in Dave’s life who were willing to step up and share their witness. It was good to have backup.
Our point in sharing this is simple: The people in our lives are not there by accident.
From those of us who have received God’s Gift of eternal life, He expects cooperation in sharing the good news. Yes, it can be awkward; it can be intimidating. It’s the right thing to do. But it’s not enough to think about it—we actually have to do the right thing. If you love them, ask the question. It’s a matter of life and death.
It’s Monday Morning. Stop and think about the people in your life—where do they stand with the Lord? How about you?