Some time back, I had an obligation to attend the funeral of a mostly unrighteous man. He had lived a long life and had caused a lot of pain and havoc . . . especially to those who knew him best. As is often the case of a funeral of an important person, the room was full-to-overflowing, but – there was little doubt in my mind that at least some of those attending this high society event were there to praise God that the old man was gone.
The service was a Christian service very much in line with the beliefs the deceased wore around town. But – many times I had observed the fruit from his life and thought his faith was about as enduring as a summer storm creek. How many hours in counseling did his life cost the people in this room? I wondered. As the pastor talked about the man’s future in heaven, I stole a few sideways glances at his nearest and dearest and wondered if heaven was still someplace they wanted to go.
And then someone came up, and – with real tears in her eyes – she told a private story of how this man had changed her life; totally changed the entire trajectory. She didn’t know why he had helped her, but he did. In fact, he changed her whole family. He exposed her to light when she was bent on eating death.
Someone else came up and talked about the old man’s youth; about suffering I couldn’t quite reconcile with the dapper and polished man I had known. It was just the bare bones of a story of all that he had overcome that I would never really know, but never would have guessed. What grit he possessed! And, begrudgingly I added, what faith!
Finally, I looked over at his family again. Such a fine and beautiful family. Some of these people were world class, and were truly lighting up the corners of the globe where they lived. How could it be that God would bless him so? I wondered. Why would God honor such a man with this family?
And then, I thought of the story of the mustard seed. I thought of how even the smallest amount of faith – of trust – could move mountains and shake the world. And I began to see for the first time how true that was. This man – the one lying in the coffin – had done so many, many things wrong; too often, he had relied on the flesh and the world to do things only God could do. But – he also had done a few things right – a very few things where he had stepped beyond himself and into trust. And I saw that those few things rippled even bigger than the bad things did. His little bit of expressed faith had multiplied and grown. And I knew, leaving the funeral, that the impact of the good would continue to grow. Mountains would move. The world would be different because – in his incredibly flawed way – he had lived faith.
I won’t say today that I want to be like that man; I don’t. Sin has consequences that hurt others more than it even hurts us, and I want as little part of that as I can have. But the truth is – I am like that man, and so are you. One day we will all have our own funeral, and even if we live mostly good lives, there will be someone there who has been victimized by our unrighteous choices; maybe even someone who is glad that we are gone. We are all constantly at war with our flesh, and sometimes it gets the better of us.
But – and this is the truly miraculous thing – if we have lived faith in even the smallest of ways, in even the most immature of fashions . . . that legacy will still move mountains and rock future generations in ways we never could predict. It’s the most undeserved of blessings. It’s the most unearned of gifts. We need look no further than a criminal dying on a cross next to Jesus to know that even a last breath expression of faith can cause the vilest life to drip with blessings and eternal significance.
So am I encouraging you to lead a self-centered, unrighteous life? Of course not! But, if you have encountered Jesus and asked the Holy Spirit into your heart, I am absolutely encouraging you to step out of condemnation and into your birthright. Even if you have made 99% bad choices since the moment you trusted Jesus as your savior, you are still gifted with the inheritance of a king. And that inheritance doesn’t have to wait until you reach Heaven! The tiniest ounce of faith can grow and blossom into good fruit you can taste while still mired in the hardship of life . . . and that is a gift you want to experience! That is the blessing of abundant life! It isn’t reserved for those who deserve it – it is reserved for those who take it. And you can take it, simply by trusting He is who He says He is and you belong to Him.
I’m praying you will live in that grace today.
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
Matthew 17:20: . . . “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.