During the sermon every Sunday, there is almost always at least one thing that seems to jump out at me from the teaching. This past Sunday at c|Life’s Forney campus, when co-pastor David Griffin taught from the story of the paralyzed man whose friends brought him to Jesus, it was the “their” in the story — emphasized by the pastor — that stuck in my head. And for good reason.
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
— Luke 5:20
As Christians in the current strife of this world, we can feel the weight of our commission pressing heavily on our shoulders. How do we bring Christ to the volatile political arena? How do we represent the objective truth of Christianity in a culture where subjective opinion reigns supreme? How do we bring Christ to our unbelieving family and friends?
Last Thursday, my husband and I were present at the death of the 80-year-old father of our dear friend, Keven. His death was sudden and unexpected. He had been healthy just two days prior, when an accidental fall from a ladder determined his fate.
Our trip to the hospital was full of inner turmoil and prayer for me. You see, when we first became friends with Keven — and for many years throughout our friendship — we were all very secular and, if anyone had asked, we probably would have all agreed that we were atheist. My relatively recent conversion in belief from the incoherence of atheism to the logical soundness of Christianity was foreign to our friends. It was not how they knew me. Remaining silent about my beliefs to avoid awkwardness and possible conflict seemed OK in most situations.
But driving to the hospital, knowing that my dear friend’s father would soon pass away, it seemed exceptionally inappropriate and unloving not to somehow mention Christ. But I also didn’t want to take advantage of an emotionally charged atmosphere. I was at a complete loss as to what to do, so I just prayed and prayed. I knew I was there for a reason, but that reason had yet to be revealed to me.
It just so happened that my husband and I entered the hospital room just seconds after they had withdrawn all life support, and Keven’s father was taking his very last breaths. The mourning was grey and still and pressing. I knew we were meant to be there in that moment. Keven was at our wedding. My husband was a groomsman in Keven’s weddings. Keven had been at the hospital when all of our children were born, and we had been present for the birth of his daughter. It was right that we were present for the death of his father. But I was so overwhelmed with the weight of my commission that I almost missed it.
Through the roomful of silent tears, I heard it. Keven’s sister, Kelley, was holding her father’s hand and humming very quietly. The song she hummed was Chris Tomlin’s version of Amazing Grace. Her mother began humming the song with her, as did I. And together we lowered their husband and father to Christ. It turns out, the weight of my commission had been partitioned out and dispersed long prior to my arrival. God went before me and always had.
As Christians, we sometimes feel that it is our ultimate and daunting responsibility to bring others to Christ alone, but God, in his faithfulness, gives us one other to ease our burdens and bring us joy.