Monday, July 16, 2007

Living Life as a Mist

(The intro to a message I will give at chapel next Sunday.)

“Hey, waz up?!”

Mike Shelton was a super-genki athletic friend I first met at college and this how he would always greet me.

Over the school year I started to get to know Mike better and he started to open his heart up more to me.

One day we were talking about God and he told me that he didn’t know if God really existed or not.

Growing up in the Catholic Church he hadn’t seen anything so wonderful to lead him to believe that God truly existed.

One day as we talked, he told me about his indecision.

“Maybe I just haven’t seen enough of God yet to really believe.” He said.

From talking to him, I knew that Mike had an open mind, so a few weeks later I had an idea and I proposed it to him.

“Would you like to take one month with me and look together at what Jesus had to say about himself in the Bible?” I asked.

“After that you can be more clear about what you think about God, Jesus and the Bible.”

I thought Mike might turn me down, but instead he said, “Yeah, that sounds good.”

For the next four Tuesday’s Mike and I met and read the Bible together, talking about what Jesus had said and done.

At the end of those four weeks he told me that he didn’t want to stop but that he wanted to continue to study the Bible with me.

During this time Mike continued to see love from God and true friendship through his other Christian friends. He wanted to know what made them different.

After two and a half months of meeting weekly, the school year ended, and Mike still wasn’t clear about what he believed.

He was going to go back to his hometown and I would not be able to see him for 3 months.

Of course I was a disappointed, but I just decided to trust God and keep praying for him.

That summer, God heard our prayers.

When Mike came back to school three months later, he excitedly told me, “As I was reading the Bible and thinking, I began to pray and suddenly I knew that I believed. Mark, I know that God is real! As I trusted God, He filled me with tons of joy and love! Mark, I accepted Jesus into my heart!”

I was so excited for him, especially when I saw that his life really was changing from the inside out.

He told me, “Before I feared becoming a Christian because I didn’t want to have to go to church every week.

Now, I want to read my Bible and talk to God and talk about Him to others all the time! It is not a “have to”, it’s a “want to”! My heart is like brand-new!

A few weeks later as we sat down for Bible study Mike said, “You know Mark, I can’t wait to go to heaven.

I just feel God’s love so much in my heart. I want to be with God more than anything!”

While I was happy for him, I also tried to reassure him that God might have some good plans for him here on earth too.

He said, “Yeah, but I just want to be with God and see Him face to face.”

I was so happy with how much God was doing in His heart.

Two weeks later I got a phone call from a friend.

“You may want to sit down first,” he said. “Mark, Mike died last night.”

“He was swimming in the university’s swimming pool and drowned.”

I almost thought it was some cruel joke.

Mike was a state-champion swimmer! How could he have drowned!

I just laid on my bed for hours staring at the ceiling in utter shock.

I couldn’t imagine that my friend Mike, this fiery, young, healthy 19–year-old guy was dead!

All I could say over and over was, “Why?” and “How?”

Finally, after the shock wore off, I began to thank God that he had accepted Christ and that Mike was now living in heaven.

Then I recalled what Mike had said to me about wanting to go to heaven.

“I just want to see God face to face!”, He had said.

With a smile I jumped up and down and shouted with joy, “This is where Mike wanted to be!”

Jesus had heard his heart’s desire and had brought him to a joy beyond what this world could ever imagine in heaven with God.

I had to rethink: Was Mike’s death at the young age of 19 really the worst thing?

Can I ask you? Are you ready to die?

Mike’s death made me think about that: Am I ready to die right now?

It also made me think about whether I am living this short life rightly.

I determined after that to live for things that truly matter and will truly last. I don’t know either when my time will be up.

I realized that I wanted to help others find full life with God in Christ, the true life that will never end.

James 4:13-14 says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will we will live to do this or that.”

According to the Bible your life and mine are like mists.

Our lives are just breathes of vapor in the air on a cold day.

The vapor comes out for two seconds and then it vanishes.

All that we can see is fading from us fast and will soon be gone.

All of my clothes, my computer, my TV and car are vapors, and nothing more.

They are all vanishing into the wind. Everything we have will soon be gone.

So if this life is vanishing quickly, what should we live this short life for?

And how should we live?


Doug said...

This is excellent Mark. You pulled me into the story and into your the shortness of life. What an amazing testimony to how God used you to bring this guy to faith in Christ right before he died! I was close to tears brother. Thanks for sharing this. I'll pray for your message to break through and touch the hearts of those who hear it.

Ryan M. said...

Mark, thanks for sharing Mike's story. I had not been a believer for very long when Mike died and his death had a profound impact on my life. I praise God for what he did in Mike's life and I praise God for how he used you in Mike's life. For that matter, I praise God for how he used you in my life.
Thank you brother.

jamie said...

mark- i think about that story often and remember it like it was yesterday- wow amazing. it comes to mind often when i'm talking to people about how we don't know our days- and that the Lord has them numbered!