Recently I received a phone call from a friend after visiting with his family. His brother, a professed existentialist, had said, “I’d like to talk with that man some more.” Soon he became ill and was hospitalized. I visited with him several times and we just talked. Either his sister or his girlfriend were always with him. He would always express his gratitude for my visit and welcome Scripture reading and prayer. My last visit with him while he was conscious was quite different. It was just the two of us and he asked me this question. “Pastor, will God forgive a man for everything he has ever done?”
“Yes,” I told him and then shared several passages of Scripture with him. He began to weep and share with me those things that were troubling him. As he began to confess his sins, he prayed sincerely for God’s forgiveness and committing his life to Christ. In a few minutes his entire countenance was transformed. He said to me, “I’m just experiencing such great peace.” We talked awhile longer, and I promised to return. I did but he wasn’t able to communicate any longer. In just a few days he passed from this life into the presence of a merciful God who loved him and gave him grace at the very last.
When I stood by his body and laid my hand on his shoulder and said good-bye, there was incredible sense of gratitude and peace mingled with sadness. I wished we had known each other longer, but we will meet again! It’s not sentiment, it’s salvation by grace and grace alone!
I wanted to share this with you tonight for several reasons. One never give up on your family and friends. Keep those relational bridges strong and in good repair. Don’t argue about religion but live your faith with faith, hope and love. Follow up with people who are interested in speaking with you. Take time to attend Contagious Christianity, or Discovering My Mission or ask someone to teach you how to share your faith story.
Long ago I discovered there were people who wanted to get to know me and spend time talking with me about faith. There are also people who want to get to know you and understand why you have faith in God. I also discovered that the busyness of life would work to keep us occupied with good things, even important things. Busyness is the enemy of our taking the time to build relationships, or respond to a new friend’s questions.
However if we make time, it can be just in time for some!
Who in your life has expressed interest in your faith?
Who are you building relationship with that is unchurched or dechurched?
Could you give someone a Biblical answer to their question, “Will God forgive …?”