Friday, May 8, 2009

If You Only Knew

I wrote this piece in 2005, about a paramedic I knew. In a sense, though, he represents the man or woman that each Christian knows, the one whom the devil would have us believe will never be saved. I still pray for his soul. Thank God, this medic's final call hasn't come yet.
I see you sitting across the room, sprawled over a battered chair, your boots up on a small table. You are the picture of self-satisfaction, an imposing hulk of resting strength. There is nothing of weakness in your strapping form, in your square jaw, or snapping eyes. What would you say if I told you what I am thinking, that before me is a man bound helpless in the entanglements of sin, and lost in black darkness. Could you believe that my heart is filled with pity for you, that I cry out for your soul to the One Who alone can break your bonds? You would only laugh to hear such things—it would only be a big joke. Will the day ever come when you feel your need, when you are silenced by the realization of your lostness?

I have seen your dark eyes smolder sullenly and dance with teasing—will they ever burn with repentant tears? Will they ever shine forth the light of Christ’s transforming life?

Your hands, so large and yet so dexterous—they have often striven to save the lives of others; will they ever be clasped in prayer at the feet of Him Who is life? Will they ever turn the pages of a Bible with reverence?

You are laughing now—a hearty, ringing laugh that fills the room—and yet I know that yours is a mouth full of cursing and bitterness. Shall the day ever come when from those lips flow words of grace, bearing testimony to the love of Christ? Shall your voice ever utter words of humble thanks to Him Who died for you? I think I would cry to hear it, but they would be tears of joy such as I have never yet known.

Your pulsing, vibrant life has often come in contact with cold death—you know better than anyone else how frail this life is. You have witnessed man at his worst, at his weakest, at his most degraded, and you have a tough shell after all these years. I don’t blame you. But how I pray that beneath your cool, glinting bravado there lurks sometimes a doubt, a fear, a concern, albeit fleeting. A realization that the day is relentlessly approaching when your ruddy countenance will be set like a pale mask, when your darting eyes will be fixed in a terrible, empty stare, and you will be dead. Just dead.

You take a drink of your coffee, lean back to call out something to a friend passing in the hall, then your boots hit the floor with a bang and you stride out. Your shoulders fill the doorway, and you are gone.

Yes, hope quails within me. But why? There is One Who broke the power of death itself, and crushed the dominion of the Prince of Evil under His pierced foot. He who can plant a tiny seed in a cleft of rock, and cause it to grow into a great tree, rending even the ledge that binds it, can, with a word, shatter your defenses. He came into the world to save sinners—can He not save you? Will His blood, which cleansed Saul the Pharisee, the thief on the cross, and my own poor soul, fail to wash away your encrusted sin? May it never be!

“For the Son of Man has come, to seek and to save that which was lost.” Even so, may He come to you, and when you bow before His loving Lordship, you, even you, will no longer be lost.

And it seems that the angels of Heaven will scarce rejoice more than I.

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