Having just passed the half century mark in my life, there are very few comments that I have not heard. There are still some things on occasion that at times surprise me, but as the years pass they become fewer and fewer as I witness life and the world around me. Sometimes with all the news channels and all the access that we have to media and information via TV, radio, print and internet, we think we have heard it all. I have heard a lot and it really takes something to surprise me.
This week, while at lunch I was having a conversation with a married Christian couple when I heard a comment that was expressed by the wife in a way that I had never heard a comment before. We were having a conversation. We were talking about faith, God and family. I had told them about my history, my ministry, my faith, and about my father’s ministry. I then asked them about their lives. I turned and asked the wife, “So were you brought up in the church”? “Oh, no” she replied, “as a matter of fact”… She then stopped right in the middle of her sentence, turned and said to her husband, “how long has momma been in hell”? “Almost 15 years now”, he replied.
Wow, that was a new one on me. I have heard “it’s been 15 years since momma died,” I have heard “momma passed away 15 years ago”, and I have heard “we lost momma 15 years ago”. But until just yesterday I had never heard the phrase, “how long has momma been in hell”.
They explained to me that they had accepted Christ into their lives shortly after marriage. They told me that they had stopped all the things they were doing at the time such as partying and such and became focused on living a Christian life. It became their life passion to go to church and follow God. They began volunteering for things within the church, spending all their free time, or as much as they could in activities in their Christian community.
Their parents lived back east and they had moved here to Colorado to go to college and had stayed here after graduation as they loved to ski and enjoyed the mountains. She explained to me that they had become so involved and immersed in the drastic change that had engulfed their lives with salvation that they had not been back home and had not taken the time to share the Gospel with their parents, none of whom were saved at the time.
It had been about 3 or 4 months months since they had become Christians, when late one evening around 11pm almost 15 years ago when she had received the call. The caller at the other end of the line informed her that her mother had suddenly and without warning suffered a major stroke and died. As she was telling me now, almost 15 years later, tears stilled welled up in her eyes, when I received the phone call I turned to my husband and said, “Momma just went to hell”. It was at that time she realized that she would never get the chance to share her salvation experience with her mother, or tell her about Jesus, it was too late.
They explained to me that they had been so caught up in being new Christians that all their focus had been on what Christ was doing in their own lives. It had not crossed their minds to witness to their parents at the time, as they were waiting until they took their vacations and returned home to share their faith. But that day never came until the day they returned home for the funeral they attended for her mother. They were so strongly affected by this event that it became their passion to see all their family members saved. Her father received Christ at his wife’s funeral, as his heart-broken daughter sat with him, crying, mourning, and praying with him for Christ to come into His life. He himself would die within a year of his wife’s passing of a heart attack, as many widowers do shortly after they lose their spouse. But His last year was filled with the joy and love that only Christ brings.
Both of the parents of the man I was sitting with had also accepted Christ shortly after the funeral, as the evident impact of the witness of the blood of Christ had on their son and daughter in law’s lives. The couple expressed to me that they have made it their goal in life to make sure that everyone in their circle of life, which includes friends, workers and family have heard the message of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. She explained to me that almost always when she witnesses about the Lord she will open the conversation with, “I want to tell you about Jesus. My momma went to hell, because I never told her about Jesus”.
After I left the couple, I continued on with my day following our conversation, but her question, “how long has momma been in hell”, kept bouncing around in my head like a pinball. I began to think to myself if I took all the relationships in my life, all my friends, in-laws, my family, cousins, aunts, uncles etc., and if I were to place their lives in the past tense, I would be able to say that about a lot of people I personally know, as many of them have not accepted Christ as their personal Savior.
I don’t know why, but it seems that many times it is the hardest to share Christ with our closest family members, and old friends. As a result we back off, put it off, hope someone else will witness to them, or forget about it completely. The question, “how long has momma been in hell” has me rethinking about all the relationships and acquaintances that I have in my life, where I need to revisit and share again with my unsaved family and friends about Jesus.
Please, take the time yourself, as I did today and make a list of all those near and dear to you in your life that do not know Jesus as their Savior. Make plans to share Christ with them. If you already have and they were not interested, do it again, and then again. Do it in love and believe that the Spirit of God will convict the hearts of those that you love so they may receive forgiveness of their sins, and Christ might be glorified in their lives. If your parents are not saved take time to share the Gospel with them so that one day, you will never be able to turn to your spouse and ask, “How Long Has Momma Been In Hell”?