“So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – – – Matthew 13:49-50
A close uncle of mine passed away yesterday. It was a sudden death that no one expected. He was health conscious and very active at work and in sports. He was a good man. He was a loving and supportive father and a faithful and caring husband to his late wife.
He was very accomplished, a self-made man. He headed several big corporations and was even selected and appointed by the President of the country to directly lead a government agency.
He was kind to his brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces. When he was a gangly college kid, he used to take care of my brother and I. Now that we’re all grown and even with his big titles, he would brag to people that he was our baby-sitter. He was the kind of uncle that you could play sports with and even go drinking with. Whenever I found myself in the same city/country where he was, I’d call to greet him. But he always did more than say “hi”; he would drop whatever he was doing and meet up with me to have dinner and to spend time with me.
To others, my uncle was a visionary and a motivator. He kept on finding ways to improve his home country and ease the plight of many of his struggling countrymen. He was all for innovation, creative solutions and self-improvement.
In all respects, he was a “good man” and an achiever.
But he also professed to be an atheist. He did not shun God; he simply did not make any effort to know his Creator. I never heard him speak in anger or question the reality of God — he just did not speak about God at all. I never asked ‘why’. Perhaps he had an issue with God for taking Lola (his mother) while he was in his teens. Or perhaps he didn’t see — or more likely ignored — the helping hand of God when he was carving a name for himself in the corporate world. Or maybe it was the pain of seeing his beloved wife, Isa, succumb to cancer. I don’t know why he chose to be an atheist. I never asked and I never mentioned Jesus to him.
And now I regret not asking and I regret not talking about Christ to him. He would never know the great love God has for him. He would not know that the radical man that walked the earth, Jesus, is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He would never know that Jesus could have been his Best Friend. He would now never understand that Jesus died on the cross for him. He would never know that there is a greater life ahead and far greater riches, more than he could imagine, awaiting him in heaven.
Time has run out for both of us. All those years and I did not take the time to speak of Christ to my uncle. Not over dinner, not when we shared a bottle of wine, not when he brought me to beautiful sights and not when he let me listen to wonderful music. And now our separation is final. He ran out of time and I wasted those times given to me.