For the last year and a half I've been rooming with an elderly friend of my brother named Ben. We had very little in common so we never really talked a great deal. Usually I would come home from work and we'd exchange a couple of pleasantries and I would go to my room for the night.
Some months back he was diagnosed with a recurrence of lung cancer and went on chemotherapy. The chemo was very debilitating and in recent days he spent more and more time in his room. I had told him I was praying for him, but he never gave the impression of having any concern for his soul and the life to come. Yesterday having come home from work I was concerned I knocked on his door and getting no reply went into his room. He was lying on the floor dead, his skin cold to the touch.
Well I dialed 911 and the police and rescued people came. After I got over the Initial shock my first thought was how small he looked, smaller than he seemed to be alive Then I thought of how he never gave any thought to the state of his eternal destiny. Amidst the profound sadness at thinking of this I was never more grateful that I believed in a sovereign God.
If I believed in the Lesser God, so popular with many in the Church today I wondered If God or myself had failed. I would have wondered if I could have come up with some clever apologetic argument that would have convinced him to look to Christ. My reformed faith tells me that his rejection of Christ came not from ignorance but from the sinful nature that is our common inheritance from Adam. Apart from Gods regenerating mercy we would all remain dead spiritually as the poor man before me was physically.
I was also given a great hope. Because I know that saving faith is a gift of God I know that in those lonely moments before he died God could have brought him to a saving faith. I can believe that I failed Ben. I've never been very good at one to one sharing, so I didn't say or do as Much as I could. But I can't believe that God failed him. That God could want to save him, send Jesus to die for his sins and have had a wonderful plan for his life could not achieve his aim.
I hope that God was merciful to Ben. Like the rest of us he didn't deserve it and couldn't earn it I can't know it but I know with a merciful and loving God I can hope he raised Ben from the spiritual death he suffered from long before his physical death. It should remind us all of the fragile threads by which our own lives hang and our need for Gods awakening power.