by Andrew Palau
I remember the word sounding so foreign in the air after Dad said it. A touch of helplessness felt like an open window blowing in winter air. We were all together as a family, us four boys, and all our families celebrating Christmas at Mom and Dad’s house. The room grew a bit hushed.
Dad took the opportunity in that moment to share the good news once more with us, his very own family, with passion and an appeal. So strong and appropriate, we will always remember that moment.
The news of Dad’s stage IV lung cancer was a revelation that came in stages as tests revealed what was happening. But as Dad enters this treatment, it’s incredible to see the peace he has about it regarding his faith and eternity.
It’s all because of Jesus.
It’s because of the freedom found in Him. Freedom that began with the forgiveness of our sins. Freedom that extends far beyond. Freedom in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It remains the stronghold in our lives. Too often, I hear people speak in ways that sound dismissive of the gospel proclamation – as a way to get ready for eternity. They seem to think it’s not an honoring strategy.
As best as I can tell, it’s usually done to emphasize some other beautiful element of the gospel, but I don’t recommend pitting these things against each other. It’s a whole package, and believe me, it is for this very moment that we preach.
Despite the ups and downs of life, with Jesus we can rejoice and have peace about heaven, our home. This doesn’t diminish the troubles or challenges in life. But with Christ, we can have the kind of peace that makes us like Dad – who is living every day with joy even while fighting back against “the final enemy.”
The recent clarification of Dad’s diagnosis reveals the reality that our time with him may be limited. This has me reflecting on the good news – the message we take throughout the world.
Dad has shared the good news with hundreds of thousands around the globe over the past years. Throughout the years, the crusades became festivals and festivals were adapted to the changing needs of communities.
But Dad never changed the message.
He has communicated the simplicity and goodness that is the good news of Jesus. Salvation for all. It’s been beautiful.
I was recently talking to a young man, someone I’ve known his entire life, about his college days. After getting to school he fell into very bad patterns. They quickly led him down into a pit—as he describes it—of discouragement and darkness. He felt stranded in his sin. He got into a place in which many find themselves. I remember it very well myself. We ask the crucial questions like: How did this happen to me? What is my purpose? Is it too late for me?
As my friend laid in bed one night, he began to think of an example of someone in his own life who was walking with God. A lightbulb came on – “I know who! Luis Palau.” And what was it about my Dad?
“He has seen success and is at peace. He says it is all because of one thing, he walks with God. He takes God seriously,” he thought.
Dad’s testimony made him hopeful. He believed it wasn’t too late for him.
In that time, he called out to God from the darkness. God’s response? The very same constant response we see throughout Scripture: “’I am a God who is near,’ declares the LORD” (Jer. 23:23).
God is available right away to all who call to him. A great “Of course!” screams from the heavens. If you are sitting in darkness, God is waiting to answer your questions and give you rest in your soul. He’s waiting to bring fulfillment to your heart. It’s beautiful and it’s for you today.
Of course, God isn’t the only one at work. Satan stands in his kingdom of darkness and fills our minds with lies. He hopes to keep us enslaved by our sin and sadness. But read this clearly: God is fully capable of swinging the prison doors wide open and he will rescue you.
As an evangelist, I’m always giving people the opportunity to come to Christ. These days, however, I’m done telling or asking people. I’m urging, and actually begging people to humble themselves, once and for all!
“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful me lay hold of it!” (Matt. 11:12). It is a generous and gentle call God makes. And I want to gently beg you to consider it as well. Take stock of your life and identify the elements that are in conflict with God’s call! What would keep you from experiencing God’s gift of life—life in abundance? If you are stuck in darkness and have not yet called out to Christ, choose Him and find peace from this tiring life. Do it today!
“So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!” (John 8:36).
What are the freedoms we’re talking about? They are freedoms from our past, in our present, and for our future.
1. Jesus offers you freedom from your past.
God will revolutionize your life, including the entirety of your past. He brings freedom from shame and guilt. We’ve all experienced living with shame and consuming regret. The Bible reminds us we’re not alone in this.
“All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, each one has turned to their own way. But God laid on him the sins of us all” (Isa. 53:6).
Jesus paid the penalty we should have paid to deal with our sin once and for all. We couldn’t have done it ourselves.
“. . . without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).
Ask him to forgive you. We are all in great need of it and it is offered to you in the name of Jesus.
2. Jesus wants freedom for your today.
We are so used to living under the pressures of everyday life and carrying around our baggage from the past, many of us do not truly understand the daily experience of living life at peace.
My dad has always inspired me that way. He lives with joy of the everyday life because of the rest he has in Christ. God “remembers [our] sins no more” (Heb. 8:12). God wants you to know he will continue to carry the burden of your past daily so you don’t have to.
“To all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
So to receive him is to welcome him in, to take over your life, it is the Holy Spirit of God that will do it and transform your day to day. Victory over the things you say you hate but can’t stop doing. To do what you say you long to do, yet never get going on… you need the Holy Spirits power for victory over sin and temptation.
What incredible news! With your past dealt with at the cross, your shame lifted and your presence empowered through the Holy Spirit, you are free to live in peace from it all.
3. Jesus empowers freedom for your eternity.
My dad is certain he will go to heaven because of the promises of the Word of God. It’s been such a joy to see the confidence he has in heaven. It seems God’s goodness becomes even more evident when you are reminded of your limited time on earth.
The peace that God offers us allows us to face death with peace and confidence. God delivers victory.
Jesus cautioned us in John 8:24, “If you do not believe that I am He (the Father), you will indeed die in your sins.”
Don’t stay in the dungeon of darkness. If you have not come to Christ or if you are a believer who has fallen into sin that is destroying your joy and your ability to joyfully share this good news forcefully out of your personal experience, enter into the truth.
It is better than you think. Jesus Christ is the great rescuer from our past, our comfort for today, and our hope and peace for the future – no matter what it holds, from fighting off the entrenched patterns of the worlds systems you may have allowed into your life, to criticism, to the cold clutches of sickness.
The battle is won. But the decision is yours. Live at peace.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
My dad had the blessing of seeing his father live his life with meaning and purpose and joy – even to his dying day. That has stuck with him all these years and shaped his view of eternity, his hope for heaven, and his passion for the Gospel. It has inspired him all his life.
For my entire life I have heard my dad share the story of his own father’s final moments before passing away. He knew he was on his way to heaven. It was only a matter of time. On his death bed, he didn’t cry out in pain or fear. He sang a hymn. He clapped his hands. He quoted Scripture. He ended well.
Now, as my own dad faces the end of the road—I am inspired in the same way. I pray we have many more months and even years with him, if that’s the Lord’s will. Yet even in these uncertain days, I see the same steadfast commitment to the gospel. His assurance of salvation. His hope for eternity. His commitment to the Word of God. And it bolsters my faith and my conviction. It inspires me to continue on, sharing the good news boldly.
This is the message we live for. This is the truth to which we are committed. Blessed assurance, as the old hymn goes, Jesus is mine. Why would we ever hold back the most amazing news the world could ever hear?
You have been giving this same inspiration. From the saints of old. From the faithful followers of Christ who have gone before us. Their testimony is our motivation. The gospel is our guide. Jesus is our foundation.
Not knowing what tomorrow holds, we press on. We share continually. We “rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter” (Prov. 24:11).
It truly is a high and mighty calling.
Andrew Palau (@andrew_palau) is an evangelist with the Luis Palau Association. He has shared the gospel with millions of people, and at every opportunity he demonstrates his father’s same passion and love for Christ and for evangelism.