Several years ago, I did a radio version of HEARTLIGHT® entitled SUPERMAN. It was the story of man who was amazing because of the incredible acts of service he did daily to bless our church family. Recently, we honored Claudes death with a memorial service. Id like to share with you the sentiments of that service, a message that Claude himself asked me to share.
You see, Claude was a very accomplished insurance man. He had a profound effect on the whole insurance industry in the state of Texas. He was devoted to his work. In fact, his work became his God, Claude said. He neglected his family. Wasnt there for his children. Then it came crashing down.
He lost his wife to divorce. His kids disliked him and didnt want him around since he wasnt for much of their early lives. While he had occasionally gone to church some, he had never surrendered his heart to the Savior. At the age of nearly 50, Claude confessed Jesus as his Lord and Savior and was united with Christ in baptism.
Claude emerged from his conversion experience a changed man. The Holy Spirits sanctifying work and indwelling presence became evident. His temper mellowed, his sharp tongue softened, his desire to serve others grew. The full effect wasnt instantaneous, but it was clearly evident.
Claude didnt want accolades or good deeds trumpeted at his funeral. Instead, he wanted me to stress one key thought which he reiterated again and again during my visits, always with tears running down his cheeks:
Phil, I was wrong. I was wrong to neglect my children. I was wrong to miss their ball games. I was wrong to not be there. Please tell every man you know that neglecting his family for his work is wrong and that it isnt worth it.
The Holy Spirits sanctifying work and indwelling presence became evident.
His words reminded me of Barbara Bushs words uttered in the presence of a hostile crowd at Welles College. They went something like this: When you are older and near death, you will not regret the business appointment missed or that one call you did not make. Instead, you will regret not having shared more time with those you loved.
God was gracious to Claude. When he passed away, he died with a loving Christian wife at his side. Step children, step grandchildren, and step great-grandchildren had visited and expressed their love to him. Neighbors dropped what they were doing and waited on him during the lingering weeks of his illness. Church friends dropped by and prayed and offered help.
The Holy Spirit and the grace of God made Claude a new man, a better man. When it came to life, Claude had thirty years of Christian service he finished well. His great regret was that it took till he was fifty to start and that his first family was hurt by his neglect.
So man or woman, young or old, lets hear Claudes words to us and not miss out on our families by starting too late. Lets also remember that no matter where weve started, Gods grace and power can turn our lives around and help finish well!