This was an unusual book for me: It was not about apologetics or history or theology or prayer, but about how to evangelize directly to people. Something related that occurred to me as I read the book is that my own faith story is unusual in that it is almost entirely book, rather than person, inspired; also, I was not trying to turn a bad life around but to ensure my life had the sort of purpose I hoped it would. The book was recommended by someone at the church in our old home, maybe even the pastor (who was terrific). And it was a good recommendation.
One point the author makes more than once that is relevant to where I am now is this: There is nothing we humans do that is anywhere near as important as bringing people to Christ (see first two excerpts below). The author is a pastor, and apparently a very successful one — see Wikipedia entry for Willow Creek Community Church here — although (or because?) rather a gee-whiz jock.
I photocopied three excerpts. The first (176) relates a moving story of how one of Chuck Colson’s prison ministries restored dignity and hope to recently released convicts in Manila. It ends, “Later, Chuck disclosed that the joy that accompanied seeing the transformation of one man’s life rose head and shoulders above every other accomplishment he had known.” You can read the excerpt here [link: https://books.google.com/books?id=LR5HrZsJoH4C&pg=PA176&lpg=PA176&dq=%22the+former+prisoners+would+repay+their+loans%22&source=bl&ots=4u4exthZwq&sig=sdaZmEfxsVDrSuAm3rrpHvE14_Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj7wM_91cbYAhUHPN8KHas9CPwQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=%22the%20former%20prisoners%20would%20repay%20their%20loans%22&f=false ].
Here’s the second excerpt (186-87, italics in original):
“There is something we must all understand,” the speaker said as he walked along the front of the platform. Periodically, he would stop and put a red sticker on a tiny replica of a house, and a red sticker on a Hot Wheels car, and a red sticker on a dollhouse-sized desk that represented career pursuits.
“You may not be able to tell from where you’re sitting, but each red sticker has a single word on it,” he said. “The word is ‘temporary.’ And these things I’m putting them on are all temporary. They will fade away, turning cartwheels like leaves in the wind when this world ends.
“If you are living for these things, then you are living a life of temporary pleasure, temporary satisfaction, and temporary fulfilment.” He continued walking around the room, now silent as he labeled everything in sight with red stickers. I watched his hands declare the fate of the very best this world has to offer as those stickers made their way to the goods in front of us.
Temporary. Temporary. Temporary. Temporary. Temporary. Temporary. Temporary.
“There is only one thing in this room that is not temporary,” he continued. “There is only one thing that you can take with you into the next world.”
He called someone up to join him on the stage, and he placed a blue sticker on her lapel. “When you get to the end of your life and take in your last breath,” he said, “what do you want your life to have been about?” My heart stilled as one thought stemmed all others in my mind.
It really is all about people.
No earthly commodity is going to make it from this world into the next. Not land, not homes, not bank accounts, not titles, not achievements. Only souls. Friends, Jesus Christ taught that every human being would be resurrected to spend an eternity in community with God in heaven or in isolation from God in hell. And because Jesus understood these eternal realities and believed them to the core of His being, he focused His attention on the only entity that would extend into the next reality: people.
I don’t know what the final assessment on my earthly life will be once I am gone. But I know this much: my quest while I am here is to seek people out and point them toward faith in God. I’ve tried enough approaches in my five decades of living to know that to invest yourself in anything other than people is to settle for the pursuit of a Lesser Vision – that ugly, ensnaring trap of the temporal.
If you’re over the quota for Lesser Vision Living and are ready to jump into the real adventure, then get all over the task of refocusing your gifts and talents, your abilities and passions, toward God-ward pursuits.
The third excerpt I photocopied (159) features what sounds like another interesting book, Garry Poole’s The Complete Book of Questions: Conversation Starters for Any Occasion (2003). You can read the excerpt here that [link: https://books.google.com/books?id=bcLXQg6nbq8C&pg=PT103&lpg=PT103&dq=%22Garry+Poole+wrote+a+book+several+years+ago%22&source=bl&ots=22yDskwTM4&sig=CkmprRwBGhDofktaOfpd3OVObzo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjosYH5k8bYAhXkSN8KHZ3SBLIQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=%22Garry%20Poole%20wrote%20a%20book%20several%20years%20ago%22&f=false ].