So submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
– James 4:7
Often on Gospel Rescue Missions, after the Freedom Club meeting (Addiction Recovery), many people come and chat with me. Sometimes these are light and fun. Attendees can also be challenging concepts and ideas that have been discussed during the week. Sometimes this conversation reveals deep-seated challenges.
One week I was waiting for the others to leave before one young man approached me.The club calls all idols (addiction is idolatry). It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not. If it’s more important to you than God, that indicates it’s a problem. We talk about all the common addictions: drugs, alcohol, porn, and the biggest of them all, tobacco. This young man wanted to let me know that he hadn’t quit because his father didn’t raise him to be a smoker. I knew I was shortening my life. However, he has boldly declared that he does not want to be labeled a smoker.
Think of all the agreements we have made in secret. This young man had destroyed his own life because he refused to surrender. what is ruining your life? what is holding you back? Surrender means that we examine our entire being and ask God to search our hearts. Ask him to eradicate anything he finds unattractive. This is not just looking for sins expressed. This asks God to purify our personality.
As a middle-aged person (who intends to live more than 100 years), I have attended countless funerals and memorial services. No matter who is in the coffin or who is being mourned, many will say, “They are in a better place now.” They say this to comfort themselves and others. It is terrifying to think that this person we loved could possibly be sent to hell. He would be shocked to hear a preacher say things like: They were completely focused on their own pleasure and satisfaction. They rarely thought of others. I have spoken to many people, but no one can remember a time when they went to church every week, confessed their sins, repented, and gave their lives to Jesus. So it is my opinion that this person is in hell now. “But it doesn’t have to be your destiny. Repent today.
At your funeral, I’m sure they won’t say such things.At my funeral, I expect people to laugh and tell stories. I once officiated the funeral of a gentleman I didn’t know. At the time, I was the local pastor. During the funeral, loved ones gave very moving tributes. I remember wanting to know this person. He seemed like the perfect husband, father, grandfather, and friend. After the service, he was to move to the fellowship hall for a meal. This was the norm.
As I waited for the people to leave the sanctuary, a timid young woman spoke to me. I had her come to my office and tell me how her deceased had repeatedly abused her when she was younger, she described the monsters. Deep tears welled up in her eyes, and soon tears came to my eyes. After one season we prayed and she went to get a fellowship meal. That’s when she noticed a line of people waiting to speak to me. As the story goes, the first lady’s story turned out to be the mildest of all. Apparently this man was a monster. Still, people said good things about the service. That moment in particular made me yearn that no one had to lie at my funeral.
Rich Schaus is the Executive Director of Muskogee’s Gospel Rescue Mission.