“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God…So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12
The pain in his body was growing worse by the hour. The medicine the physicians had given him for pain wasn’t working anymore. Brian knew his time on earth was over. Finally, after a fitful night’s sleep with his loved ones all around him, he died at 4am on a Tuesday morning at the age of 78.
MANY DECADES IN THE FUTURE:
A booming voice read out the next name in the books, “Brian Isaac Sanders, it’s your time, come forward.”
The voice seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. With trepidation Brian walked forward to stand in front of the Throne of God. Jesus then stood up from His throne where He had been sitting. Instantly, Brian was back in his home where he had lived most of his adult life and died. It took him a few seconds to realize what was going on. His judgment was going to be at the scene where he lived his life.
Jesus was standing beside him and spoke, “Now if any man builds upon the foundation [of me] with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward.1” Then in a comforting, but authoritative voice, He said, “today is your day Brian”.
Without warning, his engineering diploma from Stanford University that was hanging on the living room wall burst into flames. The wall was bare except for a nail hole where the diploma once hung and a small pile of ashes laid on the floor beneath.
Brian’s eyes grew big and he was speechless. A few seconds later he turned to Jesus and quietly asked, “A pile of ashes? I don’t understand. Why? I remember clearly you telling me to go into engineering as a career.”
Jesus’ return gaze to Brian was filled with compassion, as if it was His diploma that had been burnt up, “you heard correctly my son.”
Brian said, “What?”
“You did not ask me what school to attend.”
Their eyes were still locked on each other. Jesus’ was filled with love and Brian’s with questions, “But Standford is one of the best engineering schools in the nation, which is why I picked it.”
“You speak honestly. But I wanted you to go to Purdue. You never asked me where to go”
Jesus continued looking at Brian, but Brian could no longer hold the gaze of love, he looked down at his feet as he recognized what was being told him as true.
“I blessed your time at Stanford because I love you, but there was a Christian ministry at Purdue that needed your influence. You were going to become the student leader and change its direction. That ministry died three years later because you weren’t there.”
Brian couldn’t talk as the enormity of what he had done – or actually hadn’t done – and the effect that it caused on the earth.
Suddenly, Brian was surrounded by flames all around him as his house burst into flames. In a matter of mere seconds, He was standing in his yard with no house and only ashes around his feet.
The shock was almost too much. “Jesus, it can’t be so. In that house we held a weekly Bible study for years and many people were saved,” Brian said.
“Yes, and you will get rewards for that,” Jesus said this with tears in His eyes.
Jesus’ mouth didn’t move this time but the following words coursed like lighting through his mind, ”but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts.2”
Jesus, with great mercy, spoke, “You picked that neighborhood and house because it said to your friends that you were successful. You never asked me what I wanted you to do. I was actually going to allow you to build an even nicer house but in a different part of town. There was a neighbor there who was supposed to hear the Gospel through you. They went their whole life apart from me and then at the last moment before their death they got saved through an obedient servant who listened to my voice.”
Brian wept uncontrollably as accomplishment after accomplishment turned to ashes around him. He realized that he had done so much that seemed right to his own mind and assumed that God approved. Some of the things were even what God would have told him to do anyway, but since he did not ask God, they became his works and burned up.
Brian looked around the ruins. Out of the corner of his eye a gleaming object flashed. He ran to it expectantly and found a pure gold nugget. He turned it around in hand and read the inscription – PROJECT NO. 142, 10/14/1988 THROUGH 06/27/1990. It took Brian a few seconds to remember what this was a reference to.
The Lord patiently answered the questions in Brian’s mind before he asked them, “That project for your company was very stressful. All through the project you asked me for wisdom and relied on me instead of your natural abilities. I partnered with your natural abilities and gave you divine insight as to what to do. That is why you are holding the piece of gold in your hand. Congratulations.”
“But Lord, there are so few gold nuggets in this ash pile.”
Jesus’ words coursed through his mind and went to every cell in his body, ”all the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits – the thoughts and intents of the heart. Roll your works upon the Lord – commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed.”3
“Next Person,” came the booming voice.1 1 Corinthians 3:12-14 2 1 Corinthians 4:5 3 Proverbs 16:2-3 (Amplified)