Concentrate on God’s Way

There is an ‘ought-ness’ about life that troubles the reflective mind. He or she senses that we ought to be happier than we are, better than we are, wiser, more alive. We ought to be thinner, kinder, more peaceful, more controlled; and most thoughtful people have occasional, late-at-night presentiments that we ought to consider our finiteness. 

As Sappho, the poet, said: ‘Not even God Himself can do what cannot be; and surely as starry night follows rosy-armed Dawn and brings us darkness unto the ends of the earth, Death tracks everything living – and catches it in the end.” 

Our hearts cry out, ‘This ought not to be!’ But time and experience prove it is true.

A few years ago I read about a country gentleman in England who was told by his physician that he had only a few months to live. As he lay dying, for the first time he pondered the meaning of life. His life had been of no value to anyone. He had lived a dissipated, selfish life, and suddenly his tormented mind cried out for someone to tell him the purpose of it all. 

A Christian pastor lived near his estate, and one of the servants asked him to come and talk to his master. The nobleman poured out the misery in his heart. The pastor listened with a concern and tenderness which brought tears to the dying man. ‘Why do you care about me?’ he asked. ‘You know I have been nothing but an evil influence in this community. I am dying because I deserve to die.’ 

‘I deserve to die too,’ said the pastor, ‘but I have met One who has given me everlasting life, and will surely give it to you also, if you will believe him.’

Day after day the pastor came and spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ to the dying gentleman, who turned, groaned and sighed, because he could not understand why God should accept his worthless life. ‘I know what my life has been, I … ‘ ‘Yes,’ explained once again, the patient pastor, ‘but you are not gaining entrance to Heaven on your merit. Concentrate on the marvel of God’s way, not upon yourself and your sin. All that you are asked is to believe on …’  

‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,’ repeated the voice from the bed, ‘and you shall be saved.’ Suddenly, he tried to raise his head, so he could look into the face of the pastor. ‘I see it, I understand,’ he whispered joyfully. ‘He is able to do all things, even save me.’ 

In the remaining few weeks of his life, the nobleman was able to speak to many people of his conversion. The reality of his joy and peace in the Lord made a deep impression on his family, servants, friends and neighbours Many came to see the futility of their busy but empty lives and also became believers in the true and living God.

The Long and Short of it: 

‘Teach us, O God, that our days are like an evening shadow; but you, Lord, are enthroned forever. Your wonderful name endures to all generations, and we thank you that you do arise and have pity on all of us who place our trust in your beloved Son. In his name we pray. Amen.’ 

It is not important in life who we are, where we are, or what we are doing. The main thing for you and me is to believe in Christ, and faith always leads to action and good results even if our ‘mission field’ is confined to one room and the last few weeks of life. 

If you have never read the [New testament] book of Ephesians, for example, you ought to, and I pray as Paul did that you will begin to understand how incredibly great Christ’s power is to help those who believe him.

This article by Betty Carlson first appeared in Lutheran Women, October 1982

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