This week I heard from Rebbecca. She is a young lady now, but my first memory of her was when she was just a little girl. The first time I ever saw Rebbecca was when I preached her grandmother’s funeral in Centerburg, Ohio. It was difficult because I had never met her grandmother before. The whole family filled the chapel in the funeral home that day and I did my best to comfort them and make the gospel clear.
When I finished I prayed and stood at the head of the casket. All the guests all filed past. One of the last of the guests was a little girl with red hair—Rebbecca. She was almost too small to see over the lip of the casket. She stood in line weeping. When she reached the casket and looked in at her grandmother’s body for the last time her little heart just broke and the tears came in a stream.
I had never met her and did not know her name, but heart went out to her and I found myself praying, “Lord, would you let me be that little girl’s pastor?”
To my surprise and delight, the following Sunday nearly the whole extended family arrived at the little Grange Hall where our fledgling church met.
Little Rebbecca and her whole family were there. I visited their home. They began to attend regularly. I offered to help them understand the Bible and the Christian faith. They were eager to learn. We arranged to have regular Bible studies on Tuesday nights with more than a dozen of their family and friends.
During those Bible studies I explained the gospel over and over again. I answered questions about the Bible, the Christian life, the church, and baptism.
Within the next year the whole family came to faith in Christ for salvation. Mom first, then the children, and finally Mike Kirby, Rebbecca’s dad, gave his life the Christ.
One summer day I was driving home from the church and I noticed that someone was digging a big whole in Mark and Nina Boucher’s back yard. I guessed it was a large baptismal pool. I called Mark.
“Mark,” I said, “I noticed some digging in your back yard. It looks for all the world to me like you are digging a baptismal pool out there. Am I right?” Mark was one of our deacons, a devoted Christian leader, and a bold witness. He didn’t miss a beat, “Absolutely pastor, we would love to have a baptismal service in our new swimming pool.”
A few weeks later we had a happy time with the whole church gathered around that pool. My prayer for Rebecca and her family was answered. I became their pastor.
There are a lot of wonderful things to do in this world. There are so many beautiful places too see that none of us will ever have the time or money to see them all in this lifetime. Whole books are written about experiences to have and places to go before you die. 100 Places to Fly-fish Before You Die. 100 Places to Golf Before You Die. 1000 Places to See Before You Die. They are beautiful books.
Let me tell you where I want to go before I die. Let me tell you what I want to see. I want to go where people like Mike and Vicky Kirby are and I want to see them trust Christ and be baptized.
There is no adventure on earth so great. There is nothing more beautiful to see than that. Then we will have all eternity one day to explore the New Heaven and the New Earth together and we will never die.
When Martha’s brother died, Jesus comforted her with a promise and probed her heart with a question; “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
March 8, 2010