When loved ones have passed into death, my pain and grief are multiplied when I am unsure whether they have salvation by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I have been asked to speak at many funerals and memorial services. Each time I speak, I am keenly aware whether the person I am honoring has made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Many times, it is obvious. But there have also been instances when I was unsure. During these times, I prayed to God that in His mercy, He would have drawn the person to Him when they were alive, to the point where they would have repented of their sins and come to the point of acceptance of Jesus Christ.
In spite of these prayers, there was always an uncertainty. My grief and sadness were deep, profound, and painful. I would agonize over the thought that my loved ones could now be in more pain and suffering than they ever experienced during their life on earth. My soul was not at rest. Recently, in the depth of my grieving for a loved one, I heard God speak to me in a gentle but firm voice, “It’s time to let go.” Reluctantly, I understood and heeded God’s Word.
What took me so long to understand was that if I am grateful to God for His mercy and grace to save me, I needed to also accept that He was in control of all circumstances, for believer, unbeliever, and seeker alike. And although I may desire, with every fiber of my being, that all of my loved ones would come to know and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, it is not in my control, direction, or power. I accept and am eternally grateful to His mercy toward me, allowing me to be saved. I must also accept that all must come to God on His terms and make their own decision to follow Jesus. While I may witness to them and seek every opportunity to lead by word and example, ultimately, it is their decision. I cannot argue a person into Heaven.
...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)
I thank God for His grace and mercy to the world. He did not have to take the initiative to save anyone. But He did. The Good News is that all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. But everyone must do it for themselves, no one else can do it for them.
If you have confessed your sins, repented and turned to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, be thankful to God’s mercy and grace to you. And out of gratitude, pray for your loved ones who are not saved, that God would work in their hearts to draw them closer to Him so that they too, may make the same decision to follow Jesus Christ. Witness to them by your life, word, and deeds, that they may see your life and turn to, and glorify, God.
We are souls created to be with God. Don’t ignore the voice within you that is urging you to seek God and be reconciled to Him.
Peace and grace to all.