Some Other Time...
Years ago, while in college, I had the opportunity to go on mission to New Orleans, LA. We arrived with a large group not too long after Hurricane Katrina had destroyed the city and surrounding area. We were there to help build new homes for those who had lost everything during the disaster and offer hope through sharing the Gospel. Each day the crew I was assigned to work with were given the task of putting a roof on for the house we were helping to construct. To say it was hot in the middle of July with no shade on the top of a roof in New Orleans is an enormous understatement! We were roasting in that southern summer heat, but the work being accomplished was more than worth it.
Our ministry team was large and segmented into different groups for the whole week. We worked side-by-side with other believers from different churches all across the United States. It was a beautiful representation of God's people coming together for His glory and the helping of those in need. One couple, in particular, will always stick out in my mind as a shining example of dedication to the Lord's work and the spreading of the Gospel. They had traveled in their RV all the way from Oklahoma and explained to our teams that this was their yearly vacation routine. The gentleman was the pastor of a small congregation in which he and his wife took their vacation time each summer to a destination which had been affected by some type of disaster or community problem. They would live out of their RV for the week while ministering in home after home by sharing the Gospel and praying with families whose lives had been forever changed by negative circumstances.
The couple visited our work site one morning and explained their intentions. They began to recruit any of us that wanted to minister with them on our lunch break or after our work hours were completed. We jumped at the opportunity and were quickly divided up into teams and given specific streets to walk down, going door-to-door and sharing Christ with people. I had very little experience in this line of ministry, but I was so excited to participate. As the teams were being divided up I was shocked when they selected me to lead one of the teams. I was honored and at the some time very nervous. One of the ways we knocked the edge off of our nerves and broke the ice with those we'd be talking to was by giving out bags of popcorn. The pastor from Oklahoma said for us to let the home owners know we were offering them popcorn because we "popped in on them." As cheesy as that may sound it actually worked well and was a fantastic method of introducing ourselves and easing the tension.
Door after door and family after family we had the eternal privilege to share the Gospel and pray with people. I'll never be able to put a price tag on that experience and I'm so glad I was asked to step up and lead one of the groups. However, there's one instance which will stand out above the rest for as long as I live. I'm not afraid to admit I even lost some sleep over it while I was there. We were coming up on a home which was being worked on by the owner and a friend of his. They were working on some drywall projects in the hallways which had been damaged due to flooding from the hurricane. As we approached the front porch we were greeted with a smile and warm welcome. We gave the man a bag of popcorn and with a slight laugh he was receptive and all ears after he heard what we were doing in the neighborhood. I began to talk to him about his faith and asked if he had ever heard the Gospel before. God allowed me the opportunity to share the Good News with him and I could tell it was genuinely penetrating his mind and heart. You could see there was real conviction in his eyes.
After explaining his need for salvation found only through faith in Christ I asked the gentleman if he would consider surrendering his life to Jesus and repent of his sins. He immediately said he wanted to and I was so overwhelmed I couldn't wait to pray with him right there on the porch of his home. Just as we were about to pray he looked back over his shoulder at his friend and I'll never forget what happened next as long as I live. His friend stared down that long hallway and shook his head "no" as if to say "You're making a big mistake." I remember feeling a cold chill come over me in that hot July heat as the man on the porch looked at me and said, "Maybe some other time." I began to plead with him and explain that no one is promised tomorrow and eternity is not going to be kind to those who think they can put off repentance until it comes on their terms. As I talked with the man and urged him to understand the consequences of his decision his friend continued to look at him and us down the hallway fixated on the fact that we needed to leave.
I told the gentleman on the porch as we were leaving I would be praying for him and that our work site was just down the street, but if he ever came under conviction again that he could call on the Lord wherever he was and Christ would be faithful to redeem him according to God's word. We walked back to our building site and I couldn't get that man out of my head. What would happen to him? What if there was no tomorrow for him? What if "some other time" never came to be? I've never forgot that encounter and I probably never will. I write that story and share those details with you because just like the man on the porch that afternoon, you and I are not guaranteed tomorrow. Our lives are like a vapor according the Scriptures and we must take heed to our temporary existence. Eternity will be a reality for us all and we cannot put off the gift of conviction which the Lord gives us by arrogantly assuming we'll repent "some other time." God help us to be aware that grace offered just once is still more than we deserve and any opportunity to bow the knee and confess Jesus as Lord is an opportunity full of the mercy and never promised again.
To those on the front lines of evangelism, keep up the good work! To those committed on the mission field, stay faithful to Gospel proclamation! To those who still knock on door after door, speak with family after family, and pray for community after community please don't get weary in your well-doing because souls are at stake for all eternity and the Master is pleased and glorified with your sincerity and concern. Time is short, eternity is forever, Jesus is our only hope of salvation, and please know that "some other time" is guaranteed to no one.