“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest ” (John 4:35 ESV).
Several weeks ago, weather and illness combined to prevent us from attending our local church. I have numerous sermons on YouTube and other sites bookmarked for just such occasions. Allotting time in the week to specifically devote to scripture and study has been a rewarding habit I fell into years ago. So after breakfast, coffee in hand, I went into my study, turned on the computer, and pulled up YouTube on the browser. And I was immediately distracted when I saw a new video featuring a Ronnie Montrose performance I’d never seen before.
If you’re not familiar with Ronnie Montrose, you probably don’t have multiple electric guitars and amplifiers strewn haphazardly about your office or family room. But for those who do, Ronnie probably occupies a very lofty place in your personal pantheon of Guitar Heroes. Seeing him perform live left no doubt that his was a musical soul, that he, the song, and the instrument blended together to become music.
And on March 3, 2012, at age 65, and at the end of a long battle with depression and end-stage prostate cancer, he ended his own life.
I didn’t get to watch a sermon that morning. For whatever reason, it became important to me to know if Ronnie Montrose was saved. Over the course of the next few weeks, I would find and read probably everything that had been written about the man, his music, and what details of his life were available. He left a modest estate, enjoyed being with friends, mentoring and encouraging others, being outdoors, hunting, doing local charity work, and weaving inspirational messages into his interviews. But at the end of my investigation, I didn’t know if he was saved.
And then it dawned on me that I didn’t know if my next-door neighbors were saved. Have you ever had that thought? We’ve lived in this home for 23 years. We’ve had the same neighbors for 23 years. I can say that the neighbors on our immediate right are in the ‘Saved’ column. After 23 years I still don’t know if the neighbors on the left are saved. From any perspective they’ve been wonderful neighbors. And yet after 23 years I don’t have a clue if they’re saved.
Beyond that, I honestly don’t know if Dave at the local convenience store is saved, and I’ve known him for eight years. Then there is Sarah, the world’s greatest waitress at the neighborhood diner. Again, I don’t know.
This says much more about me than it does about my neighbors and friends in the community. Time spent in introspection can be a good thing. I should try it more often.
Perhaps like me, you read and watch the national and global news and conclude that the end times are rapidly approaching; there is a falling away from faith, an assault on Christians and Christianity, the spread of perversion, a rejoicing in child sacrifice, the rise of a global ‘religion’ with a 1,400 year history of blood and destruction, and a call for a global state and government.
Everyone who studies prophecy can see piece after piece coming together, like an intricate puzzle, where the entire picture is slowly being revealed. It is all too easy to get caught up in the daily news, eyes transfixed on the television, horrified at what we see and hear. We become addicted to the outrageous posts on social media, and are finally driven to seek the companionship of like-minded believers where we shelter together.
But we must remember that we are not called to be passive observers. As followers of Christ we are to be actively engaged.
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt 9:35-38, emphasis added).
Brothers and sisters, if we are approaching the end times, then surely we are the end-time laborers. Nowhere in the New Testament do I read that we can delegate this task to others. He is the Lord of the harvest; we are to be laborers.
Let’s look at Matthew 9:35-38 again; I believe it contains the essence of what we are to do as laborers. In modern terms, it’s our job description. And first and foremost, it is one of action. Jesus went… teaching… proclaiming. Jesus went. If the Lord Himself went, it’s fairly safe to assume He intends us to go. And who did He go to? Because He had compassion, He went to those who were harassed and helpless, the sick, the sheep without a shepherd.
Do you know anyone like that? Do we not see many who are harassed, or feeling forlorn and helpless? Walk down the sidewalk in any city, and you can see the faces of sheep without a shepherd.
Could it be your next-door neighbor? Or the employee at the Deli? Perhaps it’s someone you’ve known for decades? Is it one of your own family members? The Apostle Paul traveled far and wide. With technology we can travel the world from our living rooms. Or we can simply strike up a conversation with the person who lives next door. We can start there. But we have to go.
I’m going to turn off the news for a while. I’m going to get up. And go. As Jesus spoke in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Should we do less?
Was Ronnie Montrose saved? I don’t know. I hope he was. I’d really like to take lessons from a man with a musical soul. What I do know is that there is another ‘Ronnie’ out there, somewhere. And I can make a difference. I all have to do is go.