4/02/2006

Sunday evening hymns...

After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church's pastor
slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit and, before he gave his sermon for
the evening, briefly introduced a guest minister who was in the service that
evening. In the introduction, the pastor told the congregation the guest minister
was one of his dearest friends and that he wanted him to have a few moments
to greet the church and share whatever he felt would be appropriate for the
service. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak,
"A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the pacific
Coast," he began, "when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore.The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean as
the boat capsized."

The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two
teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat
interested in his story. The aged minister continued with .... Grabbing a rescue
line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life ... to
which boy he would throw the other end of the life line. He only had
seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian and he also knew that his son's friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves. "As the father yelled out, 'I love you,son!' he threw out the life line to his son's friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered."

By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew,
anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister's
mouth. "The father," he continued, "knew his son would step into eternity with
Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping
into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save the
son's friend.

How great is the love of God that He should do the same for us.
Our heavenly Father sacrificed His only begotten Son that we could be
saved. I urge you to accept His offer to rescue you and take hold of the life
line He is throwing out to you in this service." With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. The pastor again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon with an invitation at the end. However, no one responded to the appeal. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man's side. "That was a nice story," politely started one of the boys, "but I don't think it was very realistic for a father to give up his only son's life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian."

"Well, you've got a point there," the old man replied, glancing down at
his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, and he once again
looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isn't very realistic, is it? But I'm
standing here today to tell you that THAT story gives me a glimpse of
what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me. You see...I was
that father and your pastor is my son's friend."

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