Tom* had a goal.
I first met him a few months after beginning my ministry in Chatham, Ontario. By the time I came on the scene, he had been diagnosed with brain cancer. The suddenness and the seriousness of that diagnosis led him and his wife to search for answers for the here and now, as well as for eternity.
He was an ordinary, country type of a guy. He loved to hang out with his friends and have a few pops and shoot guns at the local gun range. He was the “life of the party”, and thoroughly enjoyed being with other guys. He met a young lady who would become the love of his life and they set out on life together. They had a baby boy and the priorities of life changed a little bit. Not as much partying and not as much drinking.
Tom did not grow up in an overly religious home. But when he received his diagnosis, he began to search for the answers to life’s most serious questions. Something inside of him told him that he needed to know. It is funny (not funny “ha-ha” but funny strange) that we humans don’t naturally ask such questions unless we are faced with literal life and literal death. In his search, Tom and his wife began to drive in their car to search for someone who could answer those questions.
In their search they stopped at a funeral home. Who else would have the answer to life and death questions like those who actually dealt with death all the time? As Tom entered the building, he met one of the staff and honestly confessed “I’m afraid to die!” He literally thought that because his bad deeds would out weigh his good ones that he wouldn’t make it to heaven! Unbelievable, right! What Tom did not know was that this particular staff member was a member of our local church and was a deeply devoted follower of Jesus Christ! This faithful follower of Jesus explained the gospel that Jesus paid the penalty for his sin, and Tom in tears opened his heart, repented of his sin and received the Lord as his Saviour.
Because of his surgeries, Tom was not able to drive himself. His wife would be his chauffeur and take him for his doctor’s appointments and to church once in a while. During this time, his cancer was removed from his brain and he was making great progress both physically as well as spiritually. I visited him at his home on one occasion and he expressed his desire to be baptized! He wanted to show his old drinking buddies as well as his family how much he loved Jesus!
Tom joined a small group at our church and continued his spiritual growth. The group rallied around him and really supported him, again he expressed his desire to be baptized. In the midst of it all, in the sovereignty of God, Tom’s cancer came back. He had to enter the hospital again but what the cancer could not do was take away his desire to show the world that he belonged to Jesus.
On a glorious Sunday morning, not too long ago, Tom obediently followed the Lord in believer’s baptism. He well knew that the act of baptism did not save him from his sins but was a public declaration that now he belonged to Jesus. What a day that was! There was not a dry eye in the church that morning as Tom’s testimony of faith was read by the very man from the funeral home who shared with him the message of faith.
A few short weeks ago, Tom fully entered into the presence of God. His faith was now sight. His courage, bravery and obedience to Christ, will live on in all of our lives. He achieved his goal of bearing testimony to the grace of God in his life. He will never be forgotten by those who knew him. He truly was a man after God’s heart!
Tom would want me to ask you: What is your goal in life? Are you ready when your life comes to its inevitable end? Tom certainly was.
For God’s glory,
Pastor Bill Finch
*Not his real name