He was successful in business and in life, blessed with great wealth that took a lifetime to achieve but he did not know God. His wife of over 40 years served God as a Catholic and remained steadfast in her belief. Together they built their dream home high on a hill over looking the rest of the world, they planned to spend the rest of their lives there.
With his deep love for his wife, a celebration was planned to renew their wedding vows; a priest from out of town did the officiating. The man liked the Godly priest and welcomed him in his home.
Shortly after the celebration came the startling news that the man had cancer… a bad type of cancer. The family did all they could do and agreed to an aggressive treatment. Things seems to look better for a short while but the malignancy came back with vengeance to attack his body.
At our Bible study one of the ladies shared his plight and we prayed because he did not know God. Every week would come a new report on the man’s condition and it was despairing news, we prayed special graces for his wife and their children but mostly for him to turn to God. The man bravely and honorably fought but it was not to be.
Last week I attended funeral services for the man that did not know God. His children both shared heart-rending stories about their loving father. His beautiful poised granddaughter spoke eloquently about her grandfather and the love that they shared. The loving wife was left numb by his absence but she never gave up on him, she was the families’s silent spiritual backbone.
At the memorial the same priest that renewed their wedding vows, would also eulogize the man. This priest and the man had formed a bond and the man called upon the priest to help him prepare for his death. The man asked the priest if it was too late for him to know God and the priest answered “No.” As the priest shared his story of how a person who was given so much and gave so much of himself to those he loved that the mercy of God came to save him. These words represented the man’s gentleness and his free will that lead him to God. The parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) was the missing link for the man that did not know God. I listen intently as the priest connected the parable to the man, the priest reminded us that it was a year of mercy and that the Lord allowed the celebration with close friends and family with the renewing of their vows because God knew that the man’s time was short.
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle,[a] and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’
8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
The hours of the workday correlate to stages in life when people turn to God, Christ in his vineyard, where they harvest much fruit for God before the sun sets on their earthly life . It does not matter if the conversion is early or late in life, we are all awarded the generous and equal gift of eternal life.
What a beautiful end to the story of this man; all the prayers from his family and strangers lead him to know God and he will forever be remembered as the man who walked in the arms God. Yes, that is how easy our maker makes it for us!