|seek righteousness, seek meekness (Zeph. 2:3)|
I remember a night in early summer when I was called as a solicitor to meet with a number of men at a Board meeting for a Christian retreat property near Wallaceburg.
The facility had a large main lodge and dining hall, numerous cabins, playing fields, expansive grounds and boat docks for small craft looking out toward Mitchell's Bay (some of the best bass fishing in all of Canada).
They were considering a change in day-to-day leadership of the camp and some of the outgoing participants had gotten legal counsel, so my friends thought that they should follow suit.
The issues at the meeting were pretty straight-forward and business was concluded early. Discussion soon turned to men's topics and got 'round to Christian faith. I was involved in the Anglican Church. Most of these men were Baptists.
I remember the Treasurer, an acountant by profession, and seemingly proficient in business, bringing it to the topic of the Second Coming of Christ. This surprised me, a successful businessman with a beautiful young family apparently eager to leave a promising known present set of circumstances for something unknown and mystical. Or did he know about it?
In my church the Bible books of Ezekiel, Daniel, First and Second Thessalonians and Revelation were considered to be mostly symbolic. I had never once heard a homily on the return of Jesus to this planet. These men went on to use terms like "saved" and "born-again". I was dumbfounded.
Then the accountant turned to me and used words something like the following:
"Doug, I love my family and want only the best for them. If God bestows blessings in this life, and he certainly does, then I have been richly favoured in home, privileges and loved ones. But it is still a fallen world reeling in pain, violence and disappointment stemming from Adam's rebellion in the Garden of Eden way back at creation. The ultimate community which God promises has no strife, sickness, death, loneliness or fear. The Heavenly City will be full of purpose, love and praise. I would go tonight if He called. I pray that my family would be included."
This dear friend had taken a risk. He had spoken the seemingly ridiculous to his lawyer acquaintance. But his earnest face and words, and the picture which he painted accompanied me all the drive home down Highway 40 under a beautiful starlit summer country sky.
This is one of the many influences then turning my attention toward Jesus. The Holy Spirit has been crudely described as "the hound-dog of Heaven" giving people a convicting sense of their sin and need. He was working on me. I cannot give reasons. I can only give thanks.
My friend had heeded the words of Peter in his First Epistle, chapter three:
15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Eugene Peterson in "The Message" puts it as follows:
Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.