Not long after I did the funeral of 'Oli The After' I did another funeral. This time it was for someone VERY different to Oli. I'm going to call him Mr P. Mr P had been a BIG time businessman - seriously successful, so successful that he retired at 52 and went to live in a cottage in a little village in England from where he pursued his 2 hobbies, gardening, and traveling the world to watch the South African cricket team play. I don't mean watch them play on TV, he did it live baby, wherever they went he went - what a life. So you get the picture! Mr P had done all right!
To top it all Mr P was a seriously generous man, among other things. Those other things included being a hard nosed business man, a pretty serious party animal (in the 50's and 60's English businessman sort of way), and having a nominal, formal relationship with God for most of his life. He and God seemed to know who each other were' but they were not close.
Several months ago Mr P was diagnosed with (I think) lung cancer and so he came back to South Africa, (where he had lived most of his life) to get treatment and to spend time with his family. During that time he started coming to Westville Baptist Church. We were busy doing a series then on the life of Nehemiah and we had called it 'Rebuilding the Broken Walls'. Mr P came every Sunday for what he told his doctor was his 'therapy' - never missed a Sunday. I'm told some stuff changed in this process, he started crying quite a lot, he lost his temper, (as in he stopped lossing his temper), he got even closer to his already close family and he couldn't stop asking questions about this Nehemiah guy and other stuff that he started hearing about and reading in the bible. He kept all his good characteristics from before and started acquiring more. One thing he became sure of - he was "ready to go". His had been a good life but his end was even better than his beginning!
This is what I think happened, I think the Gospel snuck up on him while he was learning about Nehemiah. I think that even though he was always a good guy he had been too busy for God, too busy being successful, too busy partying, too busy with the family, maybe even too busy being a good guy. But God didn't right him off, God carried on watching him and loving him and just hanging around, and then one day he stopped being busy and he started paying attention to the right stuff - Gods voice, Gods word - and when he did that the Gospel found him. He went from being busy to being ready and God saw that and he took him.
I got to watch some of that, it was amazing and it makes me glad! Thanks God for loving us enough to be sneaky!