Thursday, January 17, 2013

In Memory

What is more precious to you than your own soul?  Simple.  The soul of someone you love.  Paul said that. "For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Romans 9:3).  I know what he means.  My husband's soul is to me more precious than my own.  Why do I bring it up?  Because at one time it was in danger.

When we were in college, he had a crisis. He grew up in a time and place where the spiritual education of teenagers focused on sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.  (Didn't we all?)  What was missing was a solid understanding of the evidences behind the gospel.  He began to wonder about the truth.

 "If it is not true, it is a waste of time," that's what he told me.  He was a youth ministry major and the most honest person I'd ever known.  No way he could live a lie.  He needed to know the truth.

I was terrified, but I had an idea.  We had this amazing teacher, Dr. Neller.  He was young (compared to the rest of the Bible department), smart, diligent and interesting.  I encouraged him to go to our teacher and see what he had to say.  I was young too and naive. I didn't realize how rare it is to find teachers who love their students sacrificially.  I believed he'd help out.

They met in the student center for coffee and they talked.  Not once or twice but patiently over and over again, this busy man gently laid out the facts that brought my husband back to his faith.

I wonder what Dr. Neller was thinking? Our life now is not all that different from his life then.  We are teachers, and there are always students needing something.  We try to help, but we get tired and overwhelmed.  I imagine he did too.  He modeled Jesus for us in every way.  I can't imagine my hubby was the first or the last of his students that he met for coffee and for a conversation that changed everything.

Paul got tired and overwhelmed too, but we get some insight into his thinking in Colossians.  "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ" (Collisions 1:28). All the teaching and admonishing that he did was motivated by a desire to present his converts to Jesus, a parade of souls, each one a gift to the Savior.

On Thursday Dr. Neller died unexpectedly.  Students, alumni and faculty stand mourning with his family.  I wonder if he's had a chance yet to offer his present to Jesus? I'll never forget the present he gave me - a husband who has loved and followed God faithfully.  I know that when my husband stands in front of the throne he'll have presents of his own to offer and a heartfelt thank you to say!


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