On a bright fall day in the late 1960’s I sat across my desk from another young man about my age who was, with me, one of the younger executives on our management team. We were both in our late 30’s. I had three children and he had a large family and had married his teen age sweetheart.
“What are you willing to do to be successful?” he asked.
I thought about it for a minute and said that I was willing do just about anything to achieve success except sacrifice my faith and my family.
He responded that he was prepared to do anything it took to achieve success…no matter what.
Several years later, he was a millionaire, married to his second wife. He didn’t have much contact with his children. The two of them were living in a large home. I was pretty much in the same position as I had been in with the company and now had four children. He had lived up to his declaration and so had I. He passed away a few years ago having been married three times.
Over the years, I have met several men and women who were like this young executive. They were willing to sacrifice their marriages, their families, their health, relationships with other people and anything else that got in their way of achieving what they perceived to be “success”.
In my first novel, “Acquisition”, a high powered former CEO named Wilson McCann has lost his company, has few close friends and a distant relationship with his mother. Up to the loss of his company he was a highly successful executive well regarded for his business acumen and his integrity.
Now he is running away from his past and searching for focus in the future. He flees to a small town and takes over the debt-ridden farm of his now deceased Aunt and Uncle. McCann had spent four summers in his late teens and college years working for his Uncle, a godless task master. Now, almost twenty years later, McCann discovers a well worn Bible that his Aunt and Uncle have left behind.
McCann keeps the Bible and it stirs questions in his mind as to what has happened that changed his Aunt and Uncle’s lives since those summers many years ago. Through a contact with the pastor of a local church where his Aunt and Uncle attended, he learns that they had become Christ followers and had remained faithful during the years prior to their passing.
On a beautiful fall day, McCann, accompanied by Ted, a Border collie that he found, almost dead in his barn, go for a walk through the fields of the farm that he now owns. For some reason that he doesn’t fully understand, he takes the old Bible with him and finds a series of marked verses in the book of Romans. He is puzzling over their meaning when the local minister, Rev. Charles Hastings, arrives and joins him under the shade of a tree at the fence line of one of his fields. We pick up the narrative there:
McCann picked up the Bible between them and held it. He flipped it open and thumbed until he came to Romans.
“Someone did a lot of marking in it. I thought you were supposed to treat the Bible more respectfully!” He said, pointing to one of the notations.
“Fred and Ella were always making notes in their Bible. Ah! The ‘Roman Road’!” the minister said, leaning over to see where McCann’s finger was pointing.
“What is that?” he asked.
“The Roman Road to Salvation” Hastings responded. “Six verses in Romans that present the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s plan for our lives!”
McCann shifted uneasily and looked away from the minister. “As I said before, I don’t think I’m a candidate for the process.”
Hastings looked away as well and smiled warmly. “Ah, but I think you are Wils! We all are. It depends on whether we decide to make the election to become a serious candidate. When we do, God answers. You have done some rather good things since coming to Farnsworth. That tells me that you may be a better candidate than you think.”
The six verses that Fred and Ella Harms had marked and that the two men are discussing are as follows:
There is none righteous, not even one- Romans 3:1
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God-Romans 3:23
Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…. Romans 5:12
For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord- Romans 6:23
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us- Romans 5:8
For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved – Romans 10:13
While Wilson McCann is a fictional character of my own creation, but he is like the many men and women that I have met who are willing to sacrifice anything in the acquisition of their earthly view of “success”. They, like McCann don’t consider themselves “candidates for the process”. The Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Rome, written about 57 A.D., contain a very simple and direct message to us all.
None of us is perfect. All of us have fallen short of God’s glory. Because of that we are dead to God’s plan for our lives. The actions of our lives, no matter how noble, fall short of God’s perfect plan for us. The result of our pre-occupation with things of this world is that we are spiritually dead. The result of that death is eternal separation from God.
But, God has provided a way for us to become spiritually alive and walk with Him in this life and throughout eternity through the price paid for our sinful natures by the death of His son, Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. His promise is that anyone who accepts His gift of life through faith in His son, Jesus Christ, and turns their life over to Him can claim that promise.
Just as Charles Hastings tells McCann, everyone is a “candidate for the process” of that saving grace. But each of us must make the decision to become a serious candidate. When we do, God answers. He did for me and He will for you.
I hope and pray that you have made that decision. If you have not, re-read the “Roman Road”. Let it speak to you about your situation and consider becoming a “serious candidate” today!