If not me, then who?
If not now, then when?
When Lorne retired as President of The Navigators, he continued the Lord’s work by developing what was to be later known as the Business and Professional ministry. After turning the leadership of that ministry over to a colleague, he and his wife, Lucy, began traveling across the country to establish and develop contacts with all their relatives, some of whom they had not seen or heard from in years. Lorne recounted that on one occasion, after visiting with a relative for some time, he returned to his car and realized that the relative did not know the Lord. As he sat in the car for a moment, he related that two questions came to his mind. “If not me, then who?” and “If not now, then when?” Lorne states that these two questions prompted him to return to the man’s house and lead him to a knowledge of the Lord. It has been more than twenty five years since I heard Lorne tell this story. Of all the comments that I have heard from Lorne, this “goad” stands out as one of the most significant. It has brought conviction to me on more than one occasion over the years.
This particular patient had been admitted to the hospital for a surgical procedure called a bronchoscopy. We had visited on several occasions in the office about the abnormalities on his chest Xray and he and his family were aware of the seriousness of his situation. Although I knew from our discussions that he was not a follower of Christ, I had not taken the time to talk to him about the Lord. The day before the bronchoscopy his niece came to me with a request. She said that she had spiritual concerns about her uncle because he had never been baptized and asked me to baptize him while I was doing the bronchoscopy! I told her that I was not sure that worked so well if you were under general anesthesia at the time! After finishing the conversation with his niece the Lord immediately brought to my mind these two questions. “If not me, then who?” and “If not now, then when?” If his niece, who had no understanding of how a person is made right with God was so desirous to see that happen in his life, surely I, who had that understanding, should be as equally desirous to see that take place. Thankfully I was able to share the gospel with him later during the hospitalization and see him receive Christ as his Lord and Savior.
On one of our travels, my wife and I were in Switzerland with another couple who had been friends for years. We had taken a cable car to the top of a mountain range and then walked along a mountain trail. The fog was heavy that day and as we rounded a curve we heard the tinkling of cowbells and could see a farm house off in the distance. After knocking at the door, we were invited in and told by the housekeeper that she could fix lunch for us if we wished. I ordered some cheese sandwiches and sat down to wait for our lunch in what was a small cottage with a combined kitchen, living room, and dining room. While I was busy eating my sandwich, the others engaged the young lady in a conversation, finding out her background, where she worked during the winter and began exploring her interest in things of a spiritual nature. Although her grandfather had been a pastor in Switzerland, her life was devoid of spiritual interest and she had no spiritual contacts of any type. Upon discovering this, the couple we were with began sharing some spiritual truths from their own lives. We concluded our time there by asking what we could pray for her in her life. I was an observer to most of this, sitting quietly, munching on my sandwich. After taking the cable car back down the mountain and processing that event since, I have concluded that those around me in that farm house were being responsive to these questions. “If not me, then who?” and “If not now, then when?”
I have known these four men socially for only a few years. We engage in sports activities occasionally and will sometimes meet for lunch. Listening to their conversation, I am not certain that they have come to faith in Christ. As I continue to pray for them, these two questions continually come to mind. “If not me, then who?” and “If not now, then when?” The Lord has impressed upon me that I am part of the who, along with others. As to the when, we are thinking about a investigative Bible study in the near future.
C. S. Lewis once stated that there are no ordinary human beings. We are all to become objects of splendor (those who have received His Grace) or objects of horror. (those who have rejected His Grace) We need to remember this as we go about our daily lives with our family members, our neighbors, our fellow workers and other contacts in our lives. As we do, let us ask ourselves “If not me, then who?” and “If not now, then when?”
In Christ, Richard Spann