5/28/15 Richard about 40
“Do you ever think about that much?” I asked a man named Richard, who was sitting in our grocery store coffee corner, after I had already asked about his beliefs on life after death. Many people claim they hardly ever think about it, that it doesn’t matter to them either way, but Richard was different. “I think about it every day” he said. “I wonder about it and I worry about my children, what will happen to them.” Richard has four kids between the ages of 1 and 14. He is an immigrant from Poland, and had grown up attending the Roman Catholic Church there. Spiritually, he has great respect for his wife, who seems to him to have a way of getting her prayers answered, so he often asks her to pray for him rather than praying himself. I wondered how someone could think about and wrestle with the questions of eternity every day without soon reaching some sort of conclusion, but in talking with Richard I could see why. His was a works-based belief system, and he constantly struggled with the confusion of different church rules and expectations that had him wavering between feeling that it was either really hard or really easy to be sure of one’s salvation. His wife’s faith might have his admiration and attention, but it was focused on receiving temporal blessings for her family and loved ones, rather than living for a righteous and eternal relationship with God. Richard had learned to depend on the spiritual opinions of others, rather than the clear teaching of Scripture. I spent some time explaining about faith in Jesus rather than faith in one’s good works, but we also talked about how to read the Bible for himself and the importance of being able to teach it to his children, and to be able to use it as the standard by which to evaluate the teachings of others. Richard was excited to know he could have some assurance about eternity. He had many questions and respected my answers, but, more importantly I think, he knows more about where to go and how to find truth for himself.