He didn't linger for weeks or months or years with an illness that fated him to die. His family and friends didn't have time to say their goodbyes, give him one last hug or kiss. One last "I love you".
He was just gone.
I got the phone call. My good friend since high school had passed away suddenly. The guy that was part of my life and my family's life. He came in and out of our lives intermittently. He was never one that you could depend on to show up on time or even show up at all. He popped in occasionally, shared a tale or two, reminisced about the old days, belly laughed a bit. Then he would be gone again and we might not see him for a year or two. But we loved each other and he was part of our family. A part of our hearts. Always welcome.
Who would think he would be gone so fast? Like a frightened gasp of breath, or the blink of an eye. It's still so difficult to get my mind around it. My friend is gone. In my mind, I see him sitting in my living room and us catching each other up on things. Sharing our lives once again. But....he'll never knock on my door again. Never call unexpectedly just to talk. I'll never hear his voice or his laugh again.
He left me with a hurting heart and sorrowful spirit.
After I heard the terrible news, I tried to recall if we had ever talked about Jesus. I could not remember. I remembered snippets of conversations when he mentioned "the man upstairs" or 'the big guy". But I didn't know for sure if he had ever asked Jesus to be his savior.
How could I not know that?
I couldn't get the thought out of my mind. Over and over again, I berated myself for never talking with him openly about the matter. Then I began to pray and ask the Lord to somehow please let me know if my friend was in heaven with Him.
They held a memorial service for him and although I wanted to be there, I didn't go for various reasons.
My daughter was able to attend the services and called me afterwards to tell me about it. She said that several people shared memories, but that two people stood up and shared about the time that our friend had asked Jesus into his life.
Praise God! There were two witnesses! Relief flooded over me and I began to thank God for answering my request for this priceless news! My friend is with the Lord and one day I will see him again and we will worship together. Now my heart and soul are at peace about him.
But now I am on the hook. I didn't share Jesus with him? Thank God that someone else did. But not me?
There is no excuse.
It is our mission... our purpose... our responsibility as Christians to share Jesus with others, especially those close to us.
The death of my loved friend brought this home to me so sharply and personally. He was here one moment and then gone.
How can I not reach out and share Jesus with others? No one knows when their life will end. You never know when it will be the last time you hug that friend or family member. Death is certain yet unexpected. It is sudden. I know this. WE know this. We all have or will at some time experience the loss of a loved one.
Yes. I am on the hook now. I never want to wonder about someone again. I don't want to have that kind of regret. I want to KNOW that I shared Jesus with them. I want them to know Him.
It is urgent. It is imperative. It is my purpose, my mission, my responsibility.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3: 16-18)