Don't be Late to
Share Your Faith
The following is an email I received from a friend on April 1, 2004. It moved me so much that I had to put it on the web site. I believe, as you shall see, that we all have "Bills" in our lives too. I hope that this heart-wrenching email gives you the same sense of urgency that it gave me and, most importantly, that Jesus would want you to have.
Dear Family and Friends,
I wish to tell you of something that has recently changed my life. I am compelled to share this with you for two reasons, as both an encouragement and an exhortation.
I met a special friend named Bill (he was 70 years old) at the YMCA about six weeks ago and we quickly became walking buddies on some Thursdays. Bill and I talked pretty openly about family, food, health issues, cars, marriage, etc. I even told him that I was a Christian. My last walk with Bill was last Thursday. But, I didn't know it would be my very last walk with him forever. Bill died in his sleep on Friday evening. I just found out two nights ago.
Though Bill was getting up there in age, he was pretty fit. He came to the Y five days a week to work out. I was told that he was even there on the day of his death. And he was feeling just fine.
I know I don't need to remind you but NONE of us is exempt from dieing, even this very evening, if it is our time to go. No amount of working out, eating healthy (though you'll feel better) etc., can extend our lives one day. We all have an appointed day with death. And just because some of us are young doesn't mean that we have "all the time in the world to live".
So what is my real purpose in writing this? I am deeply saddened because the day before Bill's death I was with him during our usual walk. I had his complete attention and his respect and I did not share the Gospel message with him. Oh yes, he knew I was a Christian, but I never found out where he stood with God. As open as we were with one another I never asked him the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS that we all need to ask ourselves. I never asked him if he was ready to die or if he knew where he was going when he died. Never did I tell him that the Bible very clearly states that God requires perfection in order for us to enter Heaven, but that none of us is perfect, therefore, leaving us with a serious dilemma. Never did I tell him that he needed God's forgiveness and that trusting in Jesus' perfect life and sacrificial death on our behalf is the answer to this dilemma. Never did I make him realize that we are all born in sin and in order to be "right" before God we need to stop trusting in our own good works, turn from our sin, and place our trust in Christ's work on the cross. Never, did I tell him that trusting in Jesus means that we make Him our Savior and our Lord -- that we need to give Him control over our life and turn away from our old way of life. And that trusting in Jesus is not simply believing in Him intellectually, but putting your life in His hands and having a relationship with Him, desiring to live for Him.
Instead, I just kept thinking Bill and I would have more time. And I prayed for more time. But I took each day we had for granted and now he's gone.
Now maybe you're thinking I'm being a bit hard on myself or that I'm thinking that Bill's salvation depended on me sharing the truth with him. I am not saying this. And I know that God is not holding this against me. God doesn't need me to save Bill. But I also know that God desires to use me and He does provide opportunities for us to share His truth to others. That's what it's all about (Matthew 28). When He is leading us to speak to someone we need to listen to Him! I clearly knew I was to share with Bill how God changed my life and freed me from my sin. Everything else in life is just small talk compared to that! What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul ? (Mark 8:36). I just kept putting it off for a more convenient or appropriate time, or so I thought. But the Bible says today is the day of salvation.
Now I'm not saying that we should go up to everyone we meet and start acting wacky and ask them if they know Jesus. Nor am I saying that we all need to stand on street corners with billboards around our necks saying "repent or burn". God wants us to use wisdom and discernment. I'm talking about taking the opportunities that God provides and making the most of them -- not taking each day that we have for granted and not being wishy washy with the Gospel. The message is serious. The Bible says in God's eyes "we need to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is." It also says that "there is no one righteous, not even one of us." Jesus was made perfect for us. We have all sinned and fall short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23). The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We need to seek opportunities to share the awesome peace that God has given us with others. If we love them, we will do this, even if it is uncomfortable, because we want to spend eternity with them in Heaven. This can also mean we run the risk of offending the ones we love. Would you rather not offend them and see them go to Hell? I'd much rather offend. Jesus said that the message would offend and divide many. Our time here is short (especially in the times we are living in) and life is so precious and fragile.
There is so much more I could say but I'm too tired and it's late. I've taken enough of your time. Some of you may be wondering why I sent this specifically to you or perhaps you just don't quite get the significance. For whatever reason, I'd be happy to hear from you with any comments or questions.