by Tad Lindley
I saw smoke coming from the stovepipe on my friend’s qasgiq, so I waited until I thought it might be ready and dropped in unannounced. You see, nobody calls me for a steam bath anymore. There have been too many times when I was busy with something and had to say, “No”. Other times when I had said “Yes” something came up and I didn’t make it.
I’m not trying to get you to feel sorry for me. I know exactly what’s happened, because my steam bath guest list has gotten pretty short too. Long ago I made a rule for myself, a “three strikes and you’re out” policy. If a guy said “No” three times in a row I would cross him off my invite list.
Jesus has a guest list
Jesus has a guest list, and he’s a lot more patient than Brother Lindley. He’ll call again and again, and if you say “No” he’ll keep calling, hoping that this time you’ll say “Yes”. The lord…is long suffering to us-ward not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9) I wish I could tell you that God’s patience will last forever. True, his mercy endures forever, but his patience comes to an end. God waited patiently in the days of Noah but eventually he said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” (Genesis 6:3)
God’s final call
Eventually the Lord quit calling on the people in the days of Noah. All the fountains of the great deep were broken up and the windows of heaven were opened. (Genesis 7:11) God had made his final call. Only eight people said “Yes”. They were saved by the ark. Every other living person on earth at that time said “No” and their names were crossed off the list forever.
Sometimes we trust too much in the patience of the lord. When he calls we say “No”, telling ourselves, “He’ll call me again.” But for every one of us there will be a final call; it might be in a sermon at church, it might come when somebody talks to us about Jesus, or we might feel the gentle tugging of the Lord in a quiet place. We tend to think that we’ll have many other chances. We quiet the voice of God and smoke another bowl, or pop another can of Budweiser, or go back to our bed of adultery, not realizing that it was the last time that Jesus would ever try to reach us. Death comes unexpectedly and our name is forever crossed off God’s guest list.
Jesus likened the day in which we live to the time of Noah: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:37-41 NIV)
Some of us will die before the Lord returns, and if we have not said, “Yes” to Jesus at that point, it will be too late. But perhaps many more of us will be alive when he returns. Jesus describes a situation where two people are together working and one is taken to be with Him, and the other is left. The one that is left will be the one who has imagined that they had many years left, and that they could keep making excuses. The ones taken will be enjoying the wedding supper of the lamb (Revelation 19:7-10). Those left behind (with the exception of the Jewish people [see Zechariah 13-14]) will have missed their final call: their name will be forever blotted off of the Lord’s guest list. Even if they seek repentance they will not find it, in fact, they will curse God.
Say, “Yes”, to Jesus
If you are dodging the bullet, telling yourself, “I will get right with God next time he calls”, then you are living on the precipice of hell. There may be no next year for you, friend, this very newspaper column you are reading might be your last call from the Lord to repent: answer it.
Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.