“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
The man in the hospital bed with the tube in his nose, his own private room overlooking a little slice of the small but robust well known southern city, reached out his hand to me as soon as I had finished saying what was heavy on my heart. This wasn’t just a random person I was visiting in the hospital. This was someone I loved dearly. Someone who had spent more time in hospitals through the years than anyone I had ever known. This time around, his life was not at stake as it had been so many times before. Nevertheless, he was possibly in need of surgery, something that would be complicated by his poor health. And his health was clearly worsening.
“I know you believe in the Lord,” I essentially had just told him. “But in all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never had the impression you’ve ever committed your life to Him. You need to commit your life to Him, you know.” He knew. I knew he knew. But I couldn’t keep the words from tumbling out of my mouth anyway. Out of my heart, to be most precise.
Even the demons believe in the Lord, you know. Intellectual belief, as my loved one well knew, doesn’t come with a ticket to heaven. It doesn’t garner God’s forgiveness. It doesn’t give us a relationship with Him. It doesn’t mean we receive Christ and the Spirit of God to dwell within us. It doesn’t procure an abundant life on earth. It doesn’t provide a way of escape from hell and the lake of fire. Intellectual belief is just that. Intellectual. How do we receive all of the above from God? We turn away from our sins and turn to God. We believe Jesus is the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins, and was raised from the dead. We believe in who He is, that He is God in the flesh, the only begotten Son of God, in everything He represents, that He is truly Lord, our Lord, and Savior, our Savior. We believe in what He did, everything He has said, everything He will do. We believe God’s Word is His voice. We don’t just believe in Him like a chair, a table, a plate of food, as something concrete that we can see with our eyes. We believe by faith and ACT ACCORDINGLY. How? In our lifestyle. We devote our lives to Him. We live for Him. We are willing to say no to our own dreams and live for God. We become Jesus followers. Christ followers. We COMMIT our lives to God and God’s ways. We live for Christ. We are willing to turn away from the world and its ways.
When my loved one reached out his hand, I thought he might want to pray. That he was ready. That at long last he would commit his heart and life to Christ. He squeezed my hand lightly and changed the subject. One day it will be too late for some of us. Is God speaking to you now?