Fishers Of Men
By Dan Blankenship
As I grow older, I feel a sense of urgency. No, it is not my own life or my own salvation that causes me concern. It is those around me who call me to prayer.
Now approaching forty, I have seen a lot of death. Too much, I believe. And with each departing soul, I wonder who has embraced the gospel before leaving this domain for the next. Some I had shared the gospel with, some I had not, and it causes me great anguish to have this sense of wonder. Did I say all I could have? Did I present the good news? Was I firm in my presentation about the great divide and the Savior who offers us a bridge across it?
How many will be waiting in the restored Eden when I arrive? I canít wait to hug them and walk with them in the new kingdom, longing to be in the presence of our Redeemer and the Giver of all that is good. I hope I reached hundreds, but even if it is but a few, the few will be great company in a world without sin. A few will be plenty. For one saved soul is worth all the work.
But Jesus has called us to be fishers of men, and I believe it is best to keep casting our net, even when we believe that net comes back empty time after time. Whether it be with words or deeds, it is almost impossible to know for sure how the Holy Spirit will use our faith in motion to reach the lost. I have presented the gospel to some people more than enough, and others...well, I barely mentioned what I believe to them. Yet, I have discovered that a few kind words to a seeking soul can leave a lasting impression.
Case in point, a former coworker of mine, who was, simply put, not a nice fellow and who constantly criticized my faith. Yet every time he did, I countered with a positive comment or I asked him if he would like to learn more about the Word of God.
This went on for many months, and I really never thought that much about it. But recently, this man died of liver failure. I was aware that he had a few children, and I decided to attend his wake so I could leave a card with some money enclosed. I had no intention of staying for the memorial; I simply wanted to help his children with any financial burdens their fatherís death may have caused. However, after leaving the card, I felt the need to stay for the service. Something told me I needed to hear the message.
The pastor who spoke was a young man, a member of the Promise Keepers group, who was actually a pastor-in-training. His message was a-no-holds barred, right down to the nitty-gritty, tell-it-like-it-is sermon about salvation. Right off the bat, he basically stated that the deceased had not been a model citizen, and that the man we were there to pay tribute to was not exactly an overachiever. But then he said that there was something about the man that people needed to know.
The man who had ridiculed my faith, mocked the silly Christians, and shown little interest in things eternal, happened to be across the hall from the preacher-in-training while he was hospitalized with his failing liver. My former coworker asked the nurse to have the "Bible reading guy" across the hall stop in to talk to him.
Then, as the preacher-in-training explained why the ailing man had wanted to know more about the Bible, my eyes began to water, eventually turning to a downpour of tears.
The man I never knew I was reaching, told the rookie preacher, "I see you readiní that book a lot. I know everyone turns to God on their death bed, but itís not just that Iím worried about death. Where I work, there are a few people who read the Bible and Christian books...and, well, they just seem so happy in their faith, and theyíve never been anything but kind to me, even when I wasnít very kind to them. I guess what Iím tryiní to say is, Iíve spent my whole life running away from God. Iím ready to run to Him."
Over the month that followed, the pastor-in-training and my former coworker read and studied the Bible together. The new Christian carried his Bible everywhere, and he faced death with a certainty that his Savior was waiting on the other side with open arms.
As I drove away from the funeral home, I had to pull my car over to the side of the road. My vision was so blurred with tears that I couldnít see to drive.
We should have a sense of urgency as we cast out our nets. We really are fishers of men!
Dan Blankenship lives with his wife and two daughters in Lowell, Indiana. He is the former race director of the Buckley 5 Miler cross country race and has written three short stories appearing in Catalyst Literary Journal. His writing is inspired by the fictional works of C.S. Lewis, Frank Peretti and Randy Alcorn. He is the author of the novel, "The Running Girl," and you can find out more about Dan and his book by visiting http://www.therunninggirl.com