Six years ago, my wife and I bought a home with a quarter acre lot. One of the first things we had to purchase was a lawn mower. To be honest I wanted a riding mower, but we couldn’t afford one at the time and Megan said it seemed silly because our yard wasn’t that big. So, for 6 years I have been push mowing my yard and hating every minute of it! Nothing is worse than the combination of the North Carolina summer heat and gnats!
So this year I finally convinced Megan that I needed a riding mower, and just the other night I picked up a used one from a guy who lived about an hour from my house. By the time I was going to arrive at his house it was going to be dark… He asked me if I was okay with that. I wanted to help him feel at ease, so I told him, “I am a pastor and a pretty upstanding guy… I’m comfortable with it if you are.”
The whole way there, I kept thinking, maybe I shouldn’t have painted myself to be such an easy target… What if this guy robbed me or something crazy? Well it turns out he was just a normal guy selling a lawn mower who had in the last few months been through one of the hardest times of his life…
As we were walking up to his house, he points to 2 trucks in his driveway. He says, “the old one there is mine, and that new one is my sons. He died just a couple of months ago in a motorcycle accident and I am trying to sell his truck now… He was only 26.” My heart sank… I couldn’t imagine one of my children dying at such a young age. Not wanting to press the matter, I simply gave my condolences and told him I was sorry for his loss.
But, as we were packing up the mower, he says to me, “Did you say you are a pastor”. I responded with a simple yes. He follows up and says, “…Can I ask you a question”? I said, “Of course you can!” and with tears in his eyes he says,
“Do you think that there is even a chance that I will ever see my son, again?”
Honestly, at the moment he asked that question, a thousand different things ran through my head… What do I say? Did his son know Jesus? Did he ever commit his life to God?
So I said the only thing I thought right to say…
He looked at me and said, “really?”, and for the next 5 minutes I had the opportunity to share the gospel with this man. He told me that he “had heard that even criminals could go to heaven?” See he was not a man of faith. He told me he had never even considered it, but when his son died he began to think about it.
After I shared with him scriptures, he let me know that it had been hard on his wife and that many times he would find her in their room crying at night… struggling to process the destruction her family had felt. I told him I would pray for her. If you are reading this right now, can I ask you to stop for just a moment and say a prayer for this family? Pray for comfort. Pray for peace. Pray that through this tragedy, that God could bring salvation to this family.
So lets answer some questions.
Who goes to heaven?
Anyone who accepts Jesus! The bible is so clear on this. There is only ONE way to heaven and his name is Jesus.
Did I lie to this man? What if his son didn’t accept Jesus?
What if his son did? What if at the last second of his life he cried out, “God help me”? The truth is, we will never know this side of eternity if his son said yes to Jesus, but there is hope. There is always hope! Isn’t that what we all believe!? Never take away someone’s hope for the sake of semantics. He didn’t need a deep theological conversation, as much as he needed to know that Jesus is real.
What does this story do to you?
Honestly, it WRECKED me! I found myself in tears multiple times on the way home. If push mowing my grass for 6 years is what needed to happen in order for this man to hear the gospel, then it was all worth it. It is far too common for people who have been “saved” for a long time or “in church” their whole life to hear stories like this and dismiss them, cast blame, or disregard. This is why Jesus came. This is his heart. To pick up the broken pieces of humanity and put us back together again.
Can I ask you to allow stories like this to sink in? To move you?
Can you let your guard down… for just a moment? If you are a christian, then you have the answer, and though we may think that everyone in our world has heard the gospel, can I tell you, that is not true. Jesus gave a final command before his body left this earth… can we live by that today?
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”