They had been friends most of their lives--since high school. Now one of the men was in a rest home, but Verne continued to visit, taking his friend out for drives, talks, and ice cream. One day, while discussing heaven, Verne spoke words of truth, not realizing how hurtful they would be to his friend. Verne learned a valuable lesson about friendship that day--that being right doesn't matter when the truth is not delivered with sensitivity and love.
Verne's Lesson on Friendship
I have thoughtlessly destroyed my relationship with a friend.
He was living in a rest home. I prayed with him some. He seemed okay with that. But I never knew how much he really enjoyed it.
I would take him out for a drive every now and then, for lunch or some ice cream.
One day he reminisced about his mother who had passed away years ago. I had known her, or at least been around her from time to time. She was lovely, but distant and sad. She seemed lonely.
My friend loved her, of course, as most love their mothers. One day, talking with him, I steered our friendship onto the shoals.
We were discussing heaven. He said, "I know one thing, my mother went to heaven. She was such a good woman."
Now, I regret my response. And it's easy to see why I do. I reacted to that observation in a way that was hurtful and destructive.
"I don't want you to get me wrong," I said, not realizing that I was about to blunder monumentally, "but just being good doesn't get anyone into heaven."
He erupted with profanity-laced anger. How could anyone suggest that his mother might be in hell? How awful! Why hadn't I kept my mouth shut?
"I didn't make the rules," I persisted, "but I know what they are. If anyone hasn't accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, that soul is not admitted to heaven."
Speaking the Truth
That I spoke the truth was little consolation to my dear friend—my former friend—and to me.
So this misstep on my part understandably ended our friendship then and there. We had been high school buddies, and I had much affection for him. Did I ever send a lightning bolt into his life!
Being right didn't make me proud. In this case I was only saddened at the hurt I caused.
Maybe you can help me. I do know that Jesus Christ, our precious Savior and Advocate, said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me."
As I write this, I can't recall exactly where in the Scriptures I found this. But that is, at least in spirit, what I remember.
So, I know many people make the mistake of believing that if we do a few things right, and don't do anything too abominable, we might be able to slip through the pearly gates before they slam shut.
This is not in the Holy Scriptures, through which we hear the voice and the will of God. He shows us the way to salvation and everlasting life. He leads us there, but only with our affirmation.
And our Lord has done all the work. We cannot add to the miracle or diminish it in any way.
It is Finished
"It is finished," Jesus said on the cross. That can have many meanings. Christ knew that the moment of his death had come. And he knew that he had completed the remarkable mission for which he was sent by the Father.
If we are saved, we shall always have our salvation. God will never break the link that gives us eternal life. Any sin which follows is forgiven, as well as every sin that came before. We are safe in the Lord, and in God the Father.
But if we have not taken the crucial step—accepting Jesus, the Son of God, as our Savior and Redeemer—then any "good" we do in our lives on earth avails us little or nothing.
I have been told that my friend now bitterly professes that I am "too religious" for him. I could hardly blame him if he has said other things more pointed than that. And I know that such comments are deserved by me. I know also that, when others mock us for our devotion to God, we are blessed.
Finding the Truth
I am grateful for that. But I don't want to "win" this clash of wills. I pray that my friend—who in my heart is still my friend—will find the truth as God impresses it upon his heart.
And what is the truth?
Later, he told me that his mother had attended church in the early years of her marriage. Surely, during this time, we then reasoned, she had accepted Christ.
I was much relieved to hear this. The Scriptures assure that if she received Christ, she is saved, and that she will have fellowship with the Almighty and will rest in paradise when Christ returns. So be it. Amen.