Bob will be making a trip to Canada this week. He works for a Canadian firm and on Thursday his boss passed away. Bob had opportunities several times throughout this last year to minister to Ray and his wife and encourage them through the difficult weeks and months of his illness. We prayed for them daily and were blessed ourselves to hear the testimony of their faith and certainty that Ray would be in Heaven when he left this earth.
When we got the news the other day, there was no doubt that Bob would go to the funeral. He got some work done on the car in preparation and tied up a few loose ends that needed attention, as well. “What about your passport?” I asked. “Did you ever renew it?” The last time he went to Canada he didn’t need it. This time he would.
“I think so…” he replied. We both strained our sixty-something brains trying to remember. We recalled that he had intended to do so a few years ago, but couldn’t remember if he had actually carried through. If he hadn’t, he would not be making that trip after all.
“Go get it out and make sure,” I urged. It took him another day or two to get around to it, but last night he finally went to the safe to check on his passport’s expiration date. It wasn’t there. Neither was mine. I knew mine was still valid, but the last time I had used it, Bob had taken it away from me for safe-keeping. “You always forget where you put things when you put them ‘in a safe place’,” he had told me at the time. Now he was the one who couldn’t find either of them!
I was a tad bit put out but I knew they could only be in one of three places, so I wasn’t panicking. He kept some important papers in his top drawer and I knew at one time the passports had been there. When we got a safe, he had moved them to the safe. Later, we had bought a second, larger safe. They had to be in one of the safes or in his top drawer. Every time he came upstairs saying he couldn’t find them, I sent him back and said, “Look again! They have to be there!”
Two hours later, after searching those three places two or three times, his desk and several other possible hidey-holes, he finally came back upstairs bearing a manila folder which, of course, held the passports. He had not been looking for a folder, but for the little navy-blue booklets, and the folder had slipped down below some of the other folders, so he had not seen it anyway. Whew! And whew again—it was valid until the year 2020. He had renewed it! It gets to be pitiful thing when you’re in your sixties and this kind of thing happens more and more frequently!
Well, the passport issue is resolved now—until the next time we need one of them, anyway! Bob will leave for Canada on Wednesday and because he has a valid passport, there should be no problem with him getting into Canada, and then returning to the USA on Friday.
I wrote a blog in October 2009 likening the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 to our passport for carrying the Gospel to the world. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” These, the last words Christ spoke here on earth before He returned to Heaven, are the call He has given to all of us to take the Gospel to the world.
When the US government issues me my passport, all the authority of the United States of America stands behind it in allowing me to travel throughout the world. Likewise, the Gospel is my authority from the Lord Himself to take the Good news of Jesus Christ throughout the world so that others may hear of Him and be saved. Furthermore, the Great Commission is not just a call, but a commandment to His followers that we are to go in His name—in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost—and under His authority.
We sometimes think that the Great Commission is meant for the Church to carry out, but it personal to each one of us! My passport was issued to me and to me alone and it is unlawful for anyone else to use it. The Great Commission is personal as well! If we are saved, we are individually to take part in the Great Commission in some way—whether it be here or abroad; whether it be through praying, giving or actually sharing the Good News of the Gospel ourselves. Our salvation is very personal thing. When Jesus says “Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden,” that is very personal isn’t it? Well, someone once said, ‘Go ye’ is as much a part of Christ’s Gospel as ‘Come unto Me.’
My US passport not only tells me that I have the authority of the US government behind me, but that I also have its assistance if I run into trouble in a foreign country or have an emergency. I just have to contact the nearest US embassy or consulate. Matthew 28:20 says, “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Christ promises right here in this passage to be with us always, no matter where we are in this world, when we are obeying His Great Commission. The authority and assistance of the US government is great, but far greater is God’s authority and help! He protects and equips us for whatever He has called us to do!
On the very first page of my passport the United States government requests that other countries allow me to enter. When I enter another country my passport is stamped. Each of these stamps inside my passport represents a nation. And each of these nations represents millions of lost souls. The Gospel is my passport to reach those lost souls, my passport to a world of lost souls! Let us never forget that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected for our salvation, is the passport to Heaven for each of those precious souls who believes in Him and accepts Him as their personal Savior.
Finally, let me say I am so thankful that I don’t need to have my passport in hand to enter Heaven! No need to wonder where I left it, or if it is still valid! My name was written n the Lamb’ Book of Life at the moment of my salvation, never to be erased or blotted out, and that is all I need to enter for all eternity! Praise the Lord!