Sometimes, God uses us in ways unexpected and in ways unpleasant, yet as He sees fit.
At a service in Gurupa, a frontier town on the Amazon, I met a man who had difficulty speaking because of mouth pain. I was introduced to Him by Rachelle, a fellow missionary who met this man as he sat waiting for the service to begin. She entered conversation with him simply with an intent to encourage and love him. He had a humble and gentle spirit, and I immediately felt compassion for him. As we talked, he related his story to me through Deanna. He had had mouth /throat pain for about 4 months and it had only progressed. He had difficulty eating and was losing weight. In his past, he had been a smoker, but had not smoked for several years. He was a young 60 years old. After a few questions and a simple exam, it was obvious to me that he had advanced oral cancer. He was a loving grandfather as his grandchildren were always near and had his constant attention. He had given his life to Jesus about two years ago and Jesus’ peace in him was evident.
Through Deanna, I gently told him that he didn’t have much time left and, apart from a miraculous touch from God, he would see his Master soon. He received the news tearfully and courageously. God brought us to this town, so far from anywhere, in time to tell this man that his time in this world was short. His loving Father provided him truth in a graciously timely manner. He will be able to say good-bye to, and even plant some eternal seeds in, his kids and grandkids before he leaves. He will be able to prepare for his going from this short life, and for his coming into His Maker’s eternal presence. Such a sad, yet profoundly beautiful divine appointment.
Jesus talked much of death. It is of primary importance that we deal with first things first. We all will die. Some sooner, some later. The wise man prepares for the inevitable. The foolish denies the same. And as we walk with Jesus, He will help us prepare for our eternal home. He will remind us, through people and circumstances, that our life here is but a vapor. God is caring for us whether we are in sickness or in health and drawing us to Himself. When this man steps into the place of no more pain and no more uncertainty, the things of this world will seem so small. What we see as tragic here may seem minor from there. What we see as lengthy suffering here will be from there but a blink on an endless timeline. Jesus said he who believes in Him would not die, but live forever with Him. Then He came back to life after 3 days dead to prove his words about death and eternal life were true.
How I look forward to seeing Jesus face to face. I look forward to seeing my brother again. I long for the day when time won’t get in the way of the sharing of hearts between friends and family. I look forward to worshipping God around His throne with all those men and women from days past who walked with Jesus as the world around them called them foolish, radical, and extreme. Those who longed for that sweet union with the One who loved them, who accepted them, and who used them in gathering the hungry and the hurting to the eternal banquet.
Father, this year please help us live with our eternal destiny, and the eternal destiny of those we meet, foremost in our minds.