If It Sounds too Good to be True…

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If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. We all know that.

The nice Nigerian man who wants to give you $500K isn’t really out to enhance your life.

But occasionally an offer comes around that simply is every bit as unbelievable and generous as it sounds.

A couple of weeks ago an old mate rang and told me his father had passed away. He lives in SA and had come back for his final days of life and then the funeral. His dad was not a God botherer, but even so, who do you get to do the job of laying him to rest? A generic celebrant who has never met the family and can utter some inane AI generated platitudes, or someone who at least knew a few of the family?

So Al called me and said ‘At least you knew him…’ True – I did. I met Big Al, (yeah both father and son are called Al) once or twice at his place in Bassendean where he sat with his wife Pier at the kitchen table, a king brown in hand and plenty more in the fridge. He was a decent kinda man. That was about all I could remember, but I wasn’t close to him at all. When it came to the funeral I wasn’t sure quite how I’d tie it all together at the end – how I’d do the ‘religious bit’ with a group of people who by and large certainly weren’t that.

The Big Al I knew was a good bloke, who loved his family, but not a man who had much time for God. In fact I think it would be fair to say that God, Jesus etc was not his radar at all, until the day before he died. His son, Al, told me that when he went in to see the old man he laid it out for him, that he better make his peace with God – and he better get a move on because the clock was ticking. In typical Al fashion he didn’t beat around the bush. He shirt-fronted his dad with the offer of forgiveness and a hope in the hereafter. Big Al agreed so Al led him thru a prayer of confession, repentance and salvation.

When Al told me that his dad had come to faith the day before he died, I got a whiff of what I may be able to say to a crew of people who were unlikely to step foot inside a church, and who maybe had a view of God as distant, irrelevant or hostile.

That whole thing of Big Al slipping thru the door right at the literal death knock sounds absurd – ridiculous even. If he treated any of us that way – ignored us for this whole life then asked for a significant favour at the end – we’d probably tell him to think again. Not cool.

That’s how we operate, but not God.

He’s not like that. And it sounds absurd, ridiculous and even unfair in a sense, that he would extend the same grace to Big Al as he did to the every Sunday church goer who did their best to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘ts’.

Psalm 103 was made for these occasions. Read those words

he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust

Ah yes – dust… and Big Al was about to complete the cycle of life – to become dust. The two beer cans on his coffin and the other one that had been tucked under his arm spoke to where Big Al found his ‘happy place’. He didn’t mind a beer or 20…. There was no doubt he was created in the image of God and people shared beautiful memories of a dad, a grandad and a friend. But I also have no doubt Al had his fair share of regrets, stuff ups and failures. We all do.

Yet, in his final moments he meets a God whose love for him is so great that he chooses not to treat him as his sins deserve, but to welcome him with open arms. To offer forgiveness, peace and reconciliation.


Absolutely, completely seriously. This is what God is like.

Jesus once told a story about a man hiring workers – some he hired early in the morning at an agreed price, some others at lunch time and then a final crew just before knock off and when it came time for payment he gave all of them the same amount. Of course the ones who worked in the heat of the day complained against the late comers. ‘Not fair” was the cry. To which the boss answered:

13  ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matt 20

As I told this story I felt myself welling up with emotion – not that Big Al had passed away – but at this reminder of God and his willingness to love and accept someone who it seemed really hadn’t tuned in to him much throughout his life. His grace and love is just that astounding and far reaching.

I don’t know if anyone else in the room felt the utter confounding power of the words I spoke that day – but I did. They struck me with tidal wave impact all over again. God is that good – that generous…

He really is the father who welcomes the prodigals with open arms and then throws a party in thier honour.

If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is… except when it isn’t.

It’s why we call it ‘good news.’

Farewell Big Al – but only until we meet again in the age to come.

2 thoughts on “If It Sounds too Good to be True…

  1. Well written Hammo, you brought a tear to my eye once again. Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners Christ died for us, I guess The Cross really does have the Final Word

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