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My goal is to share encouragement, grace, and hope from God’s Word, and to brighten your day. Mission trips abroad have enlarged my heart and reminded me once again that regardless of our skin color or location we all need a savior, and His name is Jesus. I pray that my articles will lift your spirits and point you to the One who loves you most.

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Warmly,
Fran


Why Should God Let Him into Heaven?
The last shall be first and the first last (Matthew 20:16).

By Fran Caffey Sandin

I cringed as Uncle Russ barged past the restaurant hostess.  “Sir, please wait your turn,” the young woman pleaded.

           

He ignored her and grunted, “We can sit wherever we want!”  Russ zigzagged his wiry body between the tables, made his choice, then turned and motioned to us.

           

My husband, Jim, and I were embarrassed at his crude behavior.  Our special effort to visit Russ while attending a conference in Chicago, Illinois, now seemed unrewarding.  Jim’s mother, Jean, had often described her hurt feelings because of her brother Russ’ verbal barbs.  Now I understood.  However, Jean regularly prayed for Russ, loving him unconditionally.

           

A few years after our visit to Chicago, Jean had a strong urge to visit Russ.  Because she was 86 and widowed, Jim decided to take off work and escort her to Detroit, Michigan, where Russ had moved.

           

The night before they returned to Texas, Jean talked with Russ about God’s love.  She said earnestly, “Russ, I don’t know how much longer we have on this earth, and I want to see you on the other side.”  As she explained the steps to salvation, his heart softened, and he received Christ.  What a miracle!  Three months later, at age 89, Russ passed away.

           

But I didn’t rejoice about Russ’ decision.  I thought he was a tough, old codger and that he had lived all those years to please himself.  I don’t know why God should let him into heaven, I thought.  Russ had offended not only everyone in the family but outsiders too.  Besides, Russ had known Christ for only three months! Jean had known and served Christ since childhood.  Her faith and commitment were an inspiration. I wondered, why should Russ have the same privilege as Jean?  It didn’t seem fair.

           

As I thought about this situation, several Scriptures came to mind.  I remembered that God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), that God’s ways are not our ways, (Isaiah 55: 8-9) and that God can do whatever he pleases (Psalm 115: 3).

           

I realized that I was being judgmental.  When I considered my sins and Christ’s mercy and grace to me, I wondered, “Why should God let me into heaven?”  Russ, Jean and I stood on the same level---at the foot of the cross, our only hope for eternal life.

           

Jesus taught the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 20: 1-16. A landowner went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for one day. When the landowner called in the workers to be paid, he paid the ones who worked one hour the same wages as the ones who worked all day. The first ones hired grumbled and complained, but the landowner said, “I have paid you what I promised. Take what is yours and go your way, but I wish to give to the last man the same as you. Are you envious because I am generous?”

After Jean died, I mused about the situation.  It shouldn’t matter to me how long Jean and Russ had served the Savior while they were on earth.  The most important thing is that both are with Him now---forever.

           

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, His sacrifice for our sins, and the power of salvation extended to everyone who believes. Give us thankful hearts regardless of what time it may be when one says “yes” to Jesus. In His wonderful name, A-men.

Copyright 1998 Fran Caffey Sandin.  First appeared in DECISION magazine August 1998.