I used to believe that a sexual climax would be the most intensely blissful feeling a man could ever have. I craved the kind of lifestyle where I’d have numbered Swiss accounts, friends in the corridor of immense power and a terrific physique. Those, to me were the definition of la dolce vita (the good life). For a long time I desired them above all else. It’s likely that if I’d been offered them, with salvation-compromising strings attached, I might still have signed up.
Another thing; I thought the luckiest man in the Bible was the thief to the right of Jesus’ cross. The one to whom He said “Today, you shall be with me in paradise.” I thought “Wow! A life of orgies, adrenaline rushes, ruthlessly acquired wealth, grossly misused power and on the verge of death, I get a free ticket to Heaven? Could anything beat that? The best of both worlds.” If I ever wished to know the exact date of the second coming, it wasn’t so that I could intensify the aggression with which I went about my father’s business, no! It was so that if I strayed away, I could clean up my act the day before Jesus returned.
Men who got to repent on their death beds seemed like such outsmarters of spiritual and moral justice. I felt it was a cheat to the rest of us who went out of our ways to lead chaste lives, to men like Joseph who flee from the luscious delectable supple bodies of women like Portipher’s wife only to end up in the same after-life destination as the thief on the cross. A prostitute like Rahab, has her name in the most important book of all time though she spent more time sleeping with men for money than she did serving God. What a waste!
Last Saturday, I was shaken out of that thinking, I’ll tell you how. I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep, then suddenly I started to feel like the thief on the cross. I felt very much like how an atheist would if he got to say the sinner’s prayer only minutes before death after living a sin-filled life. I didn’t envy them anymore, I pitied them, and felt guilty for envying them. That’s when I jumped up to write this.
You see, when you come to truly love Jesus, you feel nothing more than the desire to please him. If not a lot, you become a little like Paul who said To live is Christ and to die is gain. Who said I now count all these things as a loss for the sake of the gospel. All the people you have cheated, all that you have stolen and all the girls you have slept with, they cease to be trophies of accomplishment, and become stints of guilt, each giving fresh reason to be sad.
In those few minutes or days between when you pray and when you die, it all flashes back before your eyes; all the good you could have done, all the souls you could have saved. If you were a star of some sort, you begin to realize how you could have used that affection multitudes had for you for a greater, eternal good. The face of each person you’ve sent to hell through one way or the other, flashes across your mind. Now that you know Jesus and His love, you know exactly what you’ve deprived others of. That, is more intensely sad than all the pleasures you could have gathered in your godforsaken life!
All what you considered gibberish in the Bible now makes sense to you. You begin to wonder how terrible your bank account in heaven’ll look like, since you hardly (if ever) paid your tithe. Because bear in mind that whilst getting into heaven is by grace & faith, your accommodation and crown is based on your works.
You’ll be so pathetic. You’ll pray for more time to run the race, but it’ll be over. You’ll have a glimpse of how much much better your life
would have been if you’d received years earlier, what you’re finally receiving on that death bed, and that’ll make you more miserable than anything you can imagine. You will enter heaven to realize that it isn’t enough to just make the cut. It isn’t, not when there’s so much more you could have done.
I once heard the story of a rich man who begged, pleaded, wept at the feet of God just so he could send to heaven some of his worldly wealth. God initially refused, but the man prayed so earnestly that God finally said “Okay, you can bring one suitcase of anything you so please.” Excitedly, the rich man went about deciding and selecting what’ll enter the one suitcase he could take to heaven.
When he reached the Pearly gates, Peter crosschecked and realized that indeed God had granted him that permission. He said to the rich man “Okay then, open up let’s see what you got in there.”
Feeling like he’d been given the chance to show off to an apostle, the man unzipped his suitcase with the excitement of a school boy. In there were rows and rows of neatly stacked bricks of the finest gold earth could birth. The rich man looked to Peter’s face for approval and was shocked to see disgust written on the apostle’s face.
Eventually Peter asked “God gave you the chance to bring a bag of stuff and you chose to bring pavement bricks? What’s wrong with you? We walk on ones better than these here!”
It’s funny, but true. I guess that’s why our most fervent prayer must not be for others or our future or our churches or our salvation even. Our most fervent prayer must be for our minds, because it’s the key to our souls. When God said he’d given them over to the sinful pleasures of their bodies and that they’re blinded to the gospel, he meant he’d let go of their minds so that when they thought, all that was stupid seemed wise in their eyes (mind) and what was wise seemed stupid.
It’s a healthy mind that tells us that a prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian, or that seven days without prayer makes a Christian weak. Our thoughts shape or destroy us. It can make us envious of thieves, rapists and atheists. How pathetic and hopeless we are if our minds are synchronized with the most fickle, useless things!
May God bind our minds to His, our wills to the will of Jesus and our hearts to the truth in His word. May He help us, so we live as true heirs blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places, and not as men who’re jealous of a thief on a cross! Amen.
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