Death…Hell…Death…Hell…

I just recently got on Facebook. As I looked through the pictures of old friends and did some reminiscing, I thought of Adonirum Judson (this is random, I know, but stay with me). Adonirm Judson was one of the very first foreign missionaries to have departed American soil to go and share the Gospel with an unreached people group in Burma.

As I looked at Facebook and the pictures of old friends I thought of Adonirum Judson’s story. It is a striking story. When Judson was younger people were terrified of his brilliance. At the age of 12 he was teaching an adult Sunday School class the book of Revelation from the original Greek text. When he got to college, he began to think himself smarter than the God who made him (don’t we all) and he became a convinced deist (someone who believes in God but that God has no real impact on the affairs of mankind after his work in creation was complete – it is a denial of God as He is revealed in the Bible). He was a powerful debater and could knock the socks off of any of his Christian schoolmates. His roommate, Jacob Eames, came into school a convinced Christian and left a convinced deist and he credited Adonirum Judson with his conversion to deism. Judson’s parents prayed for him but dared not take him on in debate for fear they may lose their faith as well. The faculty at his college kept a close eye on him to see what their resident genius would finally do with his life. Later in his life he went to New York to join the theater.

After leaving the theater he went on a particular journey where he became very tired and stopped at an Inn to spend the night. The Innkeeper informed Judson that the Inn had no available rooms. However, after some insistence from Judson, the Innkeeper gave in and said that there was one available room. He wasn’t going to give out the room because there was a man in agonizing death pains and he feared it would bother anyone who tried to sleep in the adjacent room. Judson said he was so tired that he didn’t care about the noise of the dying man and so took the room. Judson lay in the bed most of the night listening to the screams of agony and the cursing misery of the man in the next room as he suffered the pangs of a lonely death. The sounds subsided and Judson eventually dosed off to sleep. He awoke the next morning and checked out. As he checked out he asked the innkeeper what became of the man in the room next to him. The innkeeper told Judson that the man had finally died in the early morning hours. Judson commented that this was a bad spot for the innkeeper: this strange man shows up at your inn and dies and now what do you do? So the innkeeper returned that he had been very perplexed as he went through the man’s possessions to find that this man was a very successful man having graduated from the college in Providence with honors, but now had died such a lonely and ignominious death. Judson said that he had graduated from the same school and the innkeeper said, “Well, perhaps you know this man’s family – his name was Jacob Eames.” Judson paused and said, “What did you say his name was?” The innkeeper replied, “Jacob Eames.” Judson got onto his horse and started to ride back, but he says he could not see in front of himself for the tears that had begun to pour down his face. As the tears fell he says, “two words were pounding into my heart as the hooves of the horse were pounding into the ground. And the two words were, ‘Death – Hell – Death – Hell – Death – Hell.’” He got off the horse and knelt down right there on the road and “repented bitterly” of his sin. He said, “Jacob Eames now lay delivering up an account of his own soul because I had knocked out any faith that he had in God.”

That’s where I was as I looked on Facebook at the lives of people who I had been in contact with when I was a younger man. How had my hypocrisy crippled any faith they had in God? How had my lack of compassion for them stripped them of hope in eternal life? How had my words caused suffering in their souls? How had my failures started them down a road from which they would not recover? Death – Hell – Death – Hell…

Oh God I pray, that by your mighty grace my shallow hypocrisy and my lack of compassion and my thoughtless words and my pitiful failures would be overcome in the lives of these people. For it is only by grace I have come this far and only by your grace that I can move from here and have any hope of being used by you to plead with people to cling to the cross and forsake sin. May I never again return to a life of shallow hypocrisy and unloving attitudes and thoughtless words and failures that are removed from your grace. May I live another 33 years to somehow, by your grace, make up for the damage my younger years may have done to the souls of men and women whose faces I now see in these pictures…

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