Written by Sam Lawrence
I lost a well liked and much respected first cousin back in July to Heaven’s open door. My cousin Mark was a fine fellow, and I heard nothing but good words spoken of him and his testimony that night of visitation. Mark was slightly younger than me, but was one of my favorite cousins growing up. Mark and his family lived about an hour and a half from me as a child, but as that child growing up on a cotton mill village in Greenville, SC, I always looked with excitement and anticipation whenever I heard that Mark and his family were coming from Toccoa, GA, to visit. Mark and his siblings always brought plenty of laughter and good times to our back yard.
Life, obligations, and distance drew me apart from Mark and his family as we grew up and older. Mark always seemed so full of life whenever we had occasions to meet. It never once occurred to me Mark would pass so soon, and because I am older, I wrongly assumed I would go ahead of him. That is how we think, isn’t it? Only when we stare at death, head on, do we realize that no one knows when their appointment with death will be. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us all of that divine appointment, and it is one appointment that none us will be late for. For Christ followers, it all comes down to the promise in John 14:1-6. Knowing Mark and the testimony he left behind, I feel certain Mark’s Heavenly mansion was completed last Sunday morning.
Solemn events like the death of a loved one, especially one taken before what we may consider the proper time (does death ever come at a good time?) often causes the rest of us to wonder, and to reflect. In that reflection I thought of those left Mark behind, I think of those you and I know, those friends, loved ones, neighbors, and coworkers who may not know Christ. With that thought in mind, I wanted to share a thought provoking poem I received in a chain email this week. Not certain of it origin, I share this poem in the hope it will cause you to stop and think about eternity for a moment…
I was shocked , confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp–
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Bob, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake.
‘And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber – give me a clue.’
‘Hush, child,’ He said,
‘they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.’
The Lord tells us in Matthew 7:1-5 not to judge others. Now you may wonder “why is that?” You may think “I’m not so bad.” Or you may think your sins are too great to receive forgiveness. So, just what does this poem mean? Which sin is worse than another? Well, the Bible makes it clear. In James 2:10 (NKJV) it says that “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” That certainly levels the playing field. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. You see, God’s standard is perfection. As you may have heard many times… “No one is perfect.” Romans 3:23 tells us “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Well, there was one exception in all of human history… Jesus Christ. So, is a “sinless” Jesus possible? Yes! Jesus not only could, but did live his whole life without sin. 1 Peter 2:22 says, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 John 3:5 says, “. . . And in him is no sin.”
John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car. Only Jesus Christ can bring salvation through the sacrifice He made on your behalf on the cross at Calvary.
It is not what we have done that makes us “just” before the Lord, but what CHRIST has done for us. Christ can give you a NEW BEGINNING.
Every saint has a PAST…
Every sinner has a FUTURE!
Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil…
It has no point!
Love ALL, Serve ALL 24/7
Vaya Con Dios, Mark. May you rest in peace, and enjoy fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and with your Grandmother, and others in our mutual families who have gone on ahead.