“. . . whoever believes in Him shall not perish . . .” (John 3:16)
Some years ago I took a copy of God’s “whoever” policy to California. I wanted to show it to my Uncle Billy. He’d been scheduled to visit my home, but bone cancer had thwarted his plans.
My uncle reminded me much of my father: squared like a blast furnace, ruddy as a leather basketball. They shared the same West Texas roots, penchant for cigars, and blue-collar work ethic. But I wasn’t sure if they shared the same faith. So after several planes, two shuttles, and a rental-car road trip, I reached Uncle Billy’s house only to learn he was back in the hospital. No visitors. Maybe tomorrow.
He felt better the next day. Good enough to come home. I went to see him. Cancer had taken its toll and his strength. The recliner entombed his body. He recognized me yet dozed as I chatted with his wife and friends. He scarcely opened his eyes. People came and went, and I began to wonder if I would have the chance to ask the question.
Finally the guests stepped out onto the lawn and left me alone with my uncle. I slid my chair next to his, took his skin-taut hand, and wasted no words. “Bill, are you ready to go to heaven?” His eyes, for the first time, popped open. Saucer wide. His head lifted. Doubt laced his response: “I think I am.”
“Do you want to be sure?”
Our brief talk ended with a prayer for grace. We both said “amen” and I soon left. Uncle Billy died within days. Did he wake up in heaven? According to the parable of the eleventh hour workers, he did.
Some struggle with such a thought. A last-minute confessor receives the same grace as a lifetime servant? Doesn’t seem fair. The workers in the parable complained too. So the landowner, and God, explained the prerogative of ownership:
“Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me” (Mathew. 20:15 RSV).
Request grace with your dying breath, and God hears your prayer. Whoever means “whenever.”
And one more: whoever means “wherever.” Wherever you are, you’re not too far to come Home.
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From: 3:16, The Numbers of Hope
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2007) Max Lucado
Used by permission
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