The following is a guest post from my wife, Aubrey Smith.
Rarely do we ever know the last time is the last time. For me that last time was a call 13 years ago today when I talked with one of my closest friends, Jeff. We talked about college, ships (a favorite topic of mine), and comedy (a personal favorite of his). As we wrapped up our two hour call he said “good-bye” in a way that felt like he knew this was the last time we would talk. I wish I would have known because there would have been so many questions I would have asked him.
Thankfully, Jeff was a follower of Christ. I know he is with Him today in heaven. Jeff had health issues that affected him in life-altering ways. By ninth grade he was permanently in a wheelchair, but this didn’t stop him from living life, and living it for Christ. I remember during worship at our church Jeff would grab the back of the pew in front of him and pull himself out of his wheelchair to stand. He didn’t care what others thought or how difficult it was. He was going to stand and worship God.
I want to live my life like that. But what if I didn’t know Jeff was saved the last time I talked to him? What if he was asking me questions about God and I had nothing to say? We would have hung up the phone and my world would have been even more devastated when I learned he was gone. I would have to live knowing I had the chance to tell him about Christ and I didn’t take that chance.
I see myself as a baby apologist. I’m still in that new stage of learning, having conversations with others, and learning from those conversations. I never want to have a last-time conversation with someone and take for granted that they know about salvation through Christ. As my friend Becky likes to say, “all you can lose is your dignity!”
But it doesn’t come easy for me either. Jeff and I shared a common bond in school. We both had learning disabilities that impaired our ability to read and comprehend information. This affects/affected our everyday learning all through secondary school, and it still does for me today. I went on to college and struggled through 5 years to receive my bachelor’s degree in business. I value education, and that didn’t stop on the day I graduated. Apologetics is hard. It’s time consuming. You don’t become a scholar on any subject overnight. But I am made this way for a purpose and I will keep pushing through and encourage others to do the same.
There are souls going to hell. That is enough for me to continue to struggle through difficult information that is often hard for me to understand. It is so much work for me to sit and read a book, but I do it anyway. I’ve got a job to do. I need to be learning in order to answer those hard questions that skeptics are going to have.
Jeff’s life was short. He died twenty-three days after I talked to him. But I see his mission on earth as being very fruitful. He taught me three very important lessons: Don’t be ashamed of the gospel, value each day like it’s my last, and take every relationship and conversation seriously. So on this day so hard to think about I have to smile through the tears. I had the privilege of knowing a servant of Christ. One who heard the words that July morning, “Well done good and faithful servant.” I can only hope that I will hear the same. What do you think you’ll hear?