What does it mean to be rich? To have a rich life?
After Friday evening worship at Weimar University, some students often have an “afterglow”, a time for singing hymns and sharing testimonies. Pastor Keith, a faculty member and the interim guys’ dean, told a story this evening from his early ministry as a pastor, a story he was just reminded of recently. Craig was an elderly man, sick and in the hospital with an illness that would probably be terminal, when Pastor Keith went to visit him. Craig had just very recently accepted Jesus’ salvation, and the results were already visible in his life. He wasn’t afraid of death. Something important, something else– was on his mind. “Pastor,” he said, his voice weak, “I know I’m going to heaven to be with Jesus. But, Pastor–” he paused. “I regret not choosing to follow Him sooner. My wife, my kids, they don’t know Christ. They don’t follow Him.” He paused for another long moment before continuing. “I wish– I wish I’d chosen Jesus sooner. I wish I had time to share with them, but now it’s too late.”
It was a profound sense of peace, coupled with an intense sadness, that Craig felt: a combination of emotions that I pray we never have to experience, certainly not in that situation.
And a few short weeks later, Craig closed his eyes for the last time. He’s resting now, sleeping in Jesus. He knew that one day He will wake up and be with Jesus. But he couldn’t have the assurance of his loved ones being there too.
You know, often, we hear testimonies about the blackness that Jesus has brought people out of. Sometimes, though, that darkness looks rather appealing. Beautiful, even, in a strange way. Sometimes, we think, or at least I have, in times past– why do we need to avoid the darkness, when we know that God forgives our sin, that He will accept us anyway, when we do decide to finally come to Him? This is why. Even if we do come back to Him, (because remember, for every one that does return, many more never do), even when we do come home, it may be too late to invite those we love to come too.
I return to the question I asked at the beginning of this post, the question that came to mind as I walked back to my dorm this evening. Those who are wealthy know the answer: richness is relationships, not money or possessions. A rich and fulfilling life can come only from rich and fulfilling relationships. And I want this true richness, both to hold now and to carry with me into the days of eternity.
Let’s choose Jesus, entirely, exclusively, immediately. ❤️