The hospice nurse got word to me to come right away, realizing her patient was facing some fears that I might be able to relieve. I had just met 'Rey' a month before in his hospital room when I got the call from his daughter asking me to come. Leaving Dylan's soccer tournament, I prayerfully made the drive. The good doctor (Rey) drew me in immediately, such an obviously good, good man. Heck, I barely noticed his standard-issue blue gown or surroundings, gripped by his blue eyes and shock of white hair, though his room and the trappings were indicative of a serious medical situation... actually a terminal one.
These are some of my favorite conversations - the bedside, end-of-life ones - because they oft count for eternity. On that day, Rey and I had quite a discussion, as he told me how religion had kept him at arm’s length from God. "I get it - because religion is a manmade construct," I said, "and it will always fail. But Jesus? Different story." Since he was not quite convinced, I continued with various proofs and evidence(s) for the historicity of Jesus Christ, as that is what his questioning mind needed. But on this day, the Lord overcame those objections, and Rey prayed to make Jesus the Leader of his life … or as he said, ‘the Master of his life’. It was an amazing time.
I was blessed to see him a lot once he returned home, though his decline was steady and rapid. Each time, we talked about the hope and the reality of Heaven, as I described it from Revelation chapter 21. My prayers brought him a lot of comfort, along with the reassurance that he would never be alone again. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” God promised.1 But on one particular day, he was curled in the king-sized bed he shared with his wife for years; having gotten the call from the kindly hospice nurse, I asked him if he was afraid. He nodded. ‘What is it, Rey? What is troubling you?’ I lay down alongside him, so he would not have to crane his neck to look at me—‘Rey, what is it?’ He swallowed and soberly looked at me and said, ‘What if he rejects me?
‘Oh, Rey, he won’t reject you! He loves you, enough to give up his only Son. Truthfully, Rey, right now, it seems to me that the toughest thing about you coming to faith so late in the game is that you have not had a lifetime of experiencing God’s love.’ And then I set into tell him of how I came to understand his love for me, especially through his presence and direction in my life. I told him of God’s forgiveness, his mercy, and answered prayer in my life. It seemed like time stopped, as I recounted stories of how God had ‘shown up’ over and over, demonstrating his great love.
‘Rey, don’t you see?’ . . . I read David’s words from Psalm 91, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…” assuring him of God’s protective love. We covered a lot of ground, and it seemed that the tension in him eased a little after that.
It is really a shame. Truly. People come to know God and trust him as the leader of their lives, and yet … doubts come. ‘What if I didn’t pray the right prayer? What if I am not good enough to get into Heaven?’ Paul named the fifth piece of soul armor the Helmet of Salvation because having the assurance that we are forgiven by God is strong protection from that which would take us down.
If Paul had been sitting next to Rey that day, he might have explained it this way:
“since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith,
we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege
where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”2
We are made right with God through our FAITH;
we have PEACE with God
because of what JESUS DID,
not because we DESERVE it, or
because we have done anything to earn it!
We can be confident and joyful
of ETERNAL GLORY with God . . .
Christian, you—like Rey, can be joyfully expectant of your eternal future.
One more thing… Rey wondered if it was really possible to come to saving faith at age 75--that he would really be accepted into Heaven now? What about all that came before? Was there a way to be sure? Yes! Jesus said, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me
has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.3
The next time I see Rey will be on the Other Side. I doubt he can hear me now, but just in case, I would like to say, “See, I told you . . . the Father claimed you; he did not reject you. And, hey Rey? I’ll see you soon.”4. Yessir.
So Christian, put on the Helmet of Salvation – the knowledge of what God has done for you and in you, how he is changing you to become more like him, and the assurance that you will be with him forever—because your salvation is eternal! Now that is straight talk about the future! Whatever you are facing, whatever disparaging thoughts come your way, when Jesus is the leader of your life, you are assured of a future with him forever. Now that's good news. Helmet of Salvation? Got it, Paul. Thank you very much.
1) Hebrews 13.5
2) Romans 5.1-2, NLT
3) John 5.24
4) from January, 2011 – beloved Rey