8. BEHOLD, NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION
“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2nd Corinthians 6:2b)
During 1972 and most of 1973, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina, I thrilled to train as a pilot of Navy (Marine) jet attack aircraft, the A-4 Skyhawk and the A-6 Intruder.
I regularly attended a good Baptist church in that area, and became the teacher for the young adult Sunday School class, and the driver for the church’s one bus. Elder Sister (about 16) and Younger Brother (about 14) lived right near this church, and attended it (walking to church). (It’s best not to give their names.)
At this time, Elder Sister had already made a decision to trust in Christ. Younger Brother had not. This fine church gave an “altar call” after the sermon on Sunday morning and at the night service. Lost and saved people alike responded to that “call”, according to the Lord’s Leading. One Sunday night in early autumn of 1973, I felt moved to go to the altar and pray. So I did.
As I knelt there, praying for the church in general (with my eyes closed), I hear somewhat of a commotion at the altar near me. Opening my eyes and looking that way, I see Younger Brother kneeling in the altar, crying a little, and praying to Jesus to save him. When he came forward and knelt, 2 or 3 godly Christians (so thrilled by that) came to him and knelt and prayed with him.
Then, the pastor had Younger Brother stand facing the congregation, announced his decision, and asked everyone to come shake hands with Younger Brother. Afterwards, one lady who came and prayed with the 14-year-old boy, kept repeating how happy she was that he got saved. She lived near him and was somewhat like a godly grandmother to him.
This teenage brother and sister lived with their father in a cheap mobile home. Their mother had departed from them a few years ago and now these 2 children seldom or never saw their mother. The father was a “rough” unsaved man. His 14-year-old son was becoming “rough” also. Neighborhood church people got these 2 teens in church, faithfully saw to it that they came regularly, and greatly rejoiced when each of these 2 got saved.
“Richard, I wanted to come to the altar when the invitation started, but I was afraid to. But when I saw you go forward, then it was easy to follow you.” Younger Brother told me that as we stood near the altar after church was dismissed. That was a rewarding joy to hear. So, then I knew that our Lord moved me to come to the altar that night, in order for Christ to save Younger Brother. I felt most blessed to be used of God in that way.
“Lord Jesus, please use me to encourage my lost friends to come to Jesus. Use me in any way Thou doest choose, to “move” them to trust in Thee. Please help me to always walk according to the Spirit to be sensitive to such important Leading of Thine. Amen.”
All of us at church went all out to encourage these 2 teenagers to be good Christians. We prayed for their father to repent and trust in Christ. Sometime later, the boy asked me to witness to his father. So I walked with the boy from the church to their simple mobile home and entered with the boy. The father (likely not yet hardly 50 years old) lay on the sofa, in bad health from smoking and from drinking liquor.
I greeted him kindly, chatted briefly, and then told how happy I was when his son went to the altar and prayed to Christ to save him. I called on the father to put his trust in Christ to save him.
“There’s a lot out there that we don’t know about yet.” Those are the words he shot back to me to dodge my calling on him to repent. (He was referring to the universe.)
Lost and Undone Young Friend, don’t concern yourself with the much that you do not know about this vast universe that God created. Think on the most important thing that you do know for certain. “Now Is The Day Of Salvation.” You have no promise of another chance after “right now” to call on the Name of the Lord to be saved.
To prevent me from speaking more of Christ, the father kept talking. “As soon as I get better, I’m going to take my son to Alaska and we are going to work as welders on the new oil pipeline they are now constructing there.” He told me of the very high wages that job paid on that pipeline, and that room and board were provided (free) by the oil company. “We can save all those high wages and come back with much money.”
The father was a welder by trade. Those deadly welding fumes that seep inside his welder’s “mask” (and into his lungs), along with his smoking and drinking had destroyed his health so badly that he would never again work a job. In fact, he will soon die lying here on this couch.
In just a few weeks, the Marine Corps sent me from there to Japan, arriving 3 December 1973. Several friends in that church began writing to me, giving me “their” news. In early 1974, this news came from a church lady. “Richard, it was so heartbreaking. One afternoon when that son came home, he found his father dead on the couch.”
Just 5 months or so before that, I looked at that weak man lying on that couch (sin had destroyed his health), and I asked him to accept Christ, as his son and daughter had done. He refused. He soon went out into Eternity.
Lost Friend, don’t you dare trifle with a Gracious God Who is calling on you to come to Him NOW to be saved to the utmost.
“Lord Jesus, I come to Thee NOW! Please accept me NOW! Forgive my sins NOW! Make me a child of God NOW! Please save me to the utmost NOW, I plead! Amen.”
“Our Father which art in Heaven, please bless Missionary Richard’s preaching in Japan. Please powerfully convict the lost Japanese who hear him. Cause them to repent now. Amen.”
“And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mark 13:37) “Lord Jesus, help me to always walk according to the Spirit, ever so watchful, and waiting for Thee to rapture Thy Church out of this wicked world and take us to Heaven. Amen!”