The reflection I just read on Stephen's baptism at Goose Creek was written in August of 1999. At that time I considered reading it at my church during our sharing time, but I never did. You see there was a part in this reflection that Stephen did not like.
Here it is: "But oh how we long for the wind of God to blow across the hearts of the remaining unregenerate children, imparting life to their dead spirits, just as in the beginning, God gave life to Adam and made him a living soul."
Steve said, "Dad you can't read this; my unsaved friends might be offended."
So I never read it. And like most of us, Steve and I struggled with how to share the gospel in a polite and tactful way, without offending people.
But now Steve calls out without words, in a different way, and it is neither polite nor tactful.
If you go to the park, it's hard to see but you can still find traces of Steve's blood from where he crashed. This blood cries out; indeed it screams, that death can come suddenly, quickly, and unexpectedly, on bright, warm sunny days when you think everything is fine.
Last Thursday, Steve had been anticipating going to the park all day. As Steve got out of the car on this warm, rare in February, seventy degree day, his last words to me were these: "This is great! Not only do I get to ride my bike, but I get to spend time with my friends."
He had no idea he was about to die.
The blood spilled in Steve's untimely death cries out warning:
- Be ready to face God at any time.
- Don't trifle with God.
- Don't tempt God.
- Be reconciled to God.
We are all sinners in need of His forgiveness. You are either living for yourself or living for God. Turn away from living for yourself. Turn to God and plead for his forgiveness and mercy while there is still time.
About two years ago Steve turned to God. His mother and I were there when Steve turned to God with all his heart. As a result of God's work in his heart, Steve's life truly changed and we could see the difference.
But what about you fellows, you guys who Steve loved and enjoyed. If you were to die suddenly like Steve, what would happen to you?
Many of you know Jesus the way Steve does, and we praise God for this. But many of you don't.
If you died suddenly, the way Steve died, would your parents be able to take comfort in the assurance of your salvation?
Or would they have to face this:
- You never turned away from your sins.
- You heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and rejected it.
- You are eternally lost, without hope, without mercy, enemies of God, never to be seen again, condemned to an eternal hell.
Steve loved you guys. And as his father I shall always be grateful for the happiness you gave him. I only ask this: even as Steve's blood cries out in warning, don't let its warning fall on deaf ears.
Hear what the scriptures say about getting right with God: Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.
In conclusion sometimes love hurts, like a surgeon's knife without anesthetic. This is that kind of love. Guys, I love you.