Yesterday I shared the story of Frank. Today I want to share some of the lessons that I have learned during the past six years from this man.
1. Jesus really does save.
One day I was sitting with a grandmother at a baseball game in town with Frank. When he was able, he loved to go down and sit at the park and listen to the kids playing. This lady asked, “Is that Frank?” “Yes?” She was a bit shocked. She went on to tell me a myriad of ugly sins from Frank’s past. Frank was known for his gruff demeanor and wild ways. Yet after his Jesus experience, Frank was transformed into a man who my kids knew had stuffed animals saved for them, candy in his pocket, and a joke or a riddle up his sleeve. Jesus transformed. Jesus saved.
2. Don’t squander second chances.
I see so many people humbly accept Christ when their lives are rough. But its like the parable of soil (Matthew 13:1-9), they don’t grow roots and the cares of this world eventually choke them out. Frank was the fertile soil. He let the reality of salvation sink into the fabric of his soul. “I’d never go back.” And he never has.
3. Nothing on this side of eternity is more important that binding yourself to Christ’s body, the church.
For four straight years Frank didn’t miss an assembling of saints. He would come tired. He would come sick. He would come because he valued God’s people. The first time he missed gathering with us he was quite sick. And I remember how mad he was. Frank was transformed, but still a little sassy. After that it was nearly two years before he missed again. He wanted to be in the word. He wanted to be with Christians. He wanted to be built up and build others up.
4. Don’t Fear Death
When Frank decided to decline treatment for cancer everyone started telling him how inspirational he was. We were riding in the car one day and he said, “I may be dumb, but why do people keep saying that?” With a sigh, I explained that not all Christians face death the same way he was. Some people try to hold on as long as they can to this life. “Well, I don’t understand that.” He really didn’t understand. He didn’t understand why someone would be handed their invitation to heaven and they would just put in the “later” basket. Frank doesn’t just have no fear, he has a desperate longing to shed mortality and put on immortality.
“It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.” 1 Cor. 15:52