Proverbs 27:1 “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”
This verse was part of my Scripture reading this morning. “Hmmm,” I said to myself when Pastor referenced it as part of his awesome salvation message this morning, I think it speaks of how “ready” we should be to share the Gospel with a lost and dying world. We are not promised tomorrow.
I am sure that we all have unsaved loved ones that we want to see in heaven some day. My mother passed away fairly suddenly in 1988 from complications of diabetes. It has always bothered me that I do not know what her spiritual condition was when she passed. She had been raised in a good Baptist home with a God-fearing mom who went to church every time the doors were open. But what had marriage and life done to that faith in the 60-odd years she was on this earth? She was the epitome of selflessness. She would be at our home, tend to our needs, then go over to her elderly mother’s home and work there. She would sometimes spend the night there, coming home early in the morning to see my dad and I, and get ready to go to her own full-time job, then do it all over again day after day after day. She was a saint in my eyes….her works were good, but we all know that it is the condition of our heart and our acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior. I’d like to think that as she was drawing her last breath, she called upon the name of Jesus to secure her place in heaven. But I don’t know.
My dad lived with our family for several years before his death in 2003. He had been in and out of hospitals for a couple of years before that. Years of smoking had taken their toll on him. He had emphysema and COPD. He became so seriously ill that he landed in the intensive care unit of the hospital that was closest to his home in Jackson, Ohio.
At the time, both my husband and I had accepted Christ as our Savior and had been attending a small church here in Bucyrus. We had decided that I needed to make the nearly 3-hour trip down to southern Ohio to see Dad, who was somewhat improved, but still in the hospital’s ICU unit.
We had also decided that I needed to “extend the invitation”, as Pastor put it this morning, to ask him to accept Christ as his Savior. “God, if You want this to happen,” I prayed as I drove, “You have to open a door for me.” I am pretty sure I did about as much praying as I did driving. Looking back, I laugh about how “green” I was in my faith back then. While I was praying “if”. God was opening the door, making things “ready”, even though I didn’t know it at the time. I will say, too, that my Dad had a great spiritual foundation from his mother, who attended a very small Methodist church in the small town where they lived.
I walked into the ICU room to visit, carrying my Bible with me. Before long, Dad asked me to read something out of the Bible to him. Well, I had Romans 10:9 ready and raring to go:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
We talked about what it meant, and right there in that hospital ICU, I led my dad to the Lord. Several minutes later, I was making a teary phone call home. “He did it! He did it!” I can remember saying.
Dad had several years of hospitalizations to come after that, some of which ended up being in nursing homes for extended periods of rehabilitation. Before his last serious illness, one of the nurses who was a Christian witnessed to him, and she told me later “oh, your Dad said you take care of that with him!”
Something that Pastor said this morning also struck a chord in me. “Salvation is a feast, not a funeral.” That started me thinking back about Dad’s funeral. Dad passed away in mid-January of 2003. I spent the few days before his death visiting him in the hospital. He was not conscious most of the time, but I held his hand and told him how much I loved him, how much his family here loved him, and most of all, how much God loved him. I can remember receiving the phone call from the hospital letting me know that despite their efforts, he had passed away during the morning hours. My sorrow, though, was mixed with relief and joy that his earthly suffering was at an end. I was reminded of a song by Wayne Watson that had come out several years before:
“Home free, eventually
At the ultimate healing
We will be home free.”
Since he was living here with us, we decided to have calling hours here at a local funeral home and then take his body back down home to be buried next to my mom. I wanted to make sure that the music played during the calling hours was not your typical “funeral music”. I came up with a list of songs that my husband downloaded onto a CD. The only traditional song I included was “Amazing Grace”, which was one of Dad’s favorites.
Many of our friends from the church that we were attending at the time came to pay their respects to my dad, even though most of them did not know him personally. Childhood friends of his who were living close to this area came to say their goodbyes. A friend of mine who attended the calling hours told me that it was “the strangest funeral” she had ever been to. She said it struck her more as a celebration, not as your typical funeral. I told her that I guess that was because that I knew that my dad wasn’t suffering anymore and that I knew that I knew that I knew where he was making his eternal home.
God had a place ready for Dad, and because of salvation, I have the hope of seeing him again someday in heaven.
I know I am ready and I have no excuses…how about you?