One of my favorite people was able to be at worship at Lebanon Road yesterday. For about 3 months, his health has declined, and he knows that his time on the earth is likely quite short.
I have kept in touch with him some in the past few weeks and months, but it was not just out of “duty.” This man is one of my favorites. He didn’t always compliment me, but he has always encouraged me to preach the truth. He was able to “speak the truth in love,” and encourage me to always seek that truth. His input in my Wednesday night class was always focused on following “the Word” (the phrase he used constantly), and I have missed it over the past few months.
He has not been able to attend worship for about 3 months, until yesterday. Much of his family was here, and helped him get ready and come to worship. He wasn’t quite as dressed up as he used to be, but that’s quite alright. He also needed a walker to help him stabilize while shuffling to his place, but there’s no shame in that.
As he came in, I walked up to him, shook his hand and told him how glad I was to see him. He told me that he had to come back to “check in on me” (one of our common jokes), and wanted to see everyone.
Then he said words that caused me to go near tears.
He said, “I knew I had to come one more time.”
One more time.
There’s no way to be absolutely sure, but he is fairly certain that his health will prevent him from coming again. Just being present yesterday took a stronger effort than I can fathom. But this man was not going to miss worship. Declining health or not, he was going to assemble before God and with his Christian family.
You may think this post is going to be about worship attendance. Certainly, we could talk about those faithful Christians who overcome aches, pains, and even depression to attend. They come in with walkers, canes, wheelchairs, or with shuffling feet, because they are not going to miss worship.
But I want to make another observation to encourage us all to examine our lives.
This man knows that he may or may not enter a “house of worship” again in this life. He knows that the sermon he heard yesterday may have been the last one he hears in person. He may have sung his last hymn (“O Will You Not Tell It Today,” which he has lived out countless times) in corporate worship. He may have eaten the Lord’s Supper with his brothers and sisters at Lebanon Road for the final time. I pray that’s not true. I want him to be able to come back and worship again and again, but that’s not in my hands, nor his.
But as I reflect on his words, I’m thinking about a different “one more time,” both for myself and for my friend.
You see, there is coming a day, and we know not when it will be, that some will worship “one more time,” and that “one time” will never end. The moment is coming when none of us will enter another house of worship on this earth, because time will be no more. Our “one more time” will be eternal, and around the throne of God. It will last and last, and we will never grow weary of praising and honoring the One who gave us time and blessed us in eternity.
I want to find my friend around the throne of God and lovingly tell him, “Bill, you were wrong. You got yet another ‘one more time,’ and it’s even better than either of us thought.”
Friend, will I see you there?
QUESTION: What about worship in heaven encourages you the most?
Photo credit: Greg Westfall on Creative Commons
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