Monday, June 29, 2009

Finishing Well....

Over the past few years there has been a number of conferences, sermons, & teaching on finishing well. Yet I find myself particularly struck by the fact that one who really finishes well is the one who hears "well done good & faithful servant" when they enter into God's kingdom.

I myself am (Lord, willing) far from that day. This weekend I was reminded how quickly our end can come. I had the opportunity to attend the funeral of a dear brother who I have known for more than 20 years.

I was reminded of the high price Stasiek paid to follow Jesus in this town when it was Communist time & there was no protestant work of any kind in Nowy Targ. The closest fellowship was more than 2 hours away in Krakow (the roads were not as good & the cars...let's not even talk about that). Keep in mind that during Communist time all fuel was rationed, so if you had a car & you had money to buy fuel you might not have the coupons to actually get the fuel.

Stasiek, together with his wife stepped out in faith to give their lives to Jesus, be baptised & they started holding Bible Studies in their home. This may not sound like much to you but here they could have lost their jobs that were communist backed, they were shunned by their Catholic neighbors, friends, & family. But they persisted. They became one of the foundational families that the current Pentecostal Church in Nowy Targ is built on.
I met them soon after the church was started. They became the family that so generously & graciously hosted me every summer & winter when I was commuting to Poland. We shared our lives together with Jesus. I was privileged to watch their 2 boys grow into fine young men, who are incredibly gifted musicians.

When I think of Stasiek I think of Paul's letter to Timothy when he talks about the character qualities of an Elder in the church.

Stasiek was a man who's life was beyond reproach in a time & place when the common practice was to find ways to steal from the government & to look after your own interests first.

He was faithful to his wife & his boys. Yeah, he made mistakes along the way but he earnestly sought to find God's way in being the best husband to his wife & father to his boys. These ideals were not even on the radar of most people at that time.

One of the qualities I appreciate most about Stasiek is that he could exercise self-control...I know this because there were times when I was OUT OF CONTROL & he was there to calm me down & turn me to Jesus. He was a man of peace & I believe that he was a man of good reputation...which in this town is not always easy when you are not Catholic.
As I mentioned before, his home was a place of great hospitality. For those of you who don't know about communist time or even remember that it existed in Poland, hospitality to Westerners (particularly Americans) could draw unfavorable attention with the government officials, especially if the nationals were actively involved in Christian activities. So the hospitality that he & his family showed to me was a risk.
Finishing well...Stasiek was diagnosed with cancer 2 months ago. After a relative brief stay in the hospital he went home & back to work. Though he was in pain, he continually praise His God. Two weeks ago his youngest son was married. As his eldest son shared with me on Saturday, Stasiek was faithful to his God to the very end.

Well Done Stasiek, faithful servant of the Living God!

I am truly blessed to have known this man of God & his family.

Please pray with me for the people who have been left behind & the huge hole that is in their hearts. For his family: wife, 2 sons & new daughter-in-law. For the Pentecostal Church & all the lives he impacted there as a member & elder in the church.

It does leave me asking myself what would people say of me when I am laid to rest?

Am I a person who is willing to risk it all for Christ?

What price am I willing to pay today to stand up for Jesus?

No comments: