Let me tell you the story of Johan van Hulst of Amsterdam, Holland.
He lived to be 107 years old. He was famous for the remarkable and daring rescue of more than 600 Jewish children from the Nazis. He received many awards and accolades. But did he die a contented man? No! He died a haunted man with many regrets. How could this be?
Van Hulst was a teacher at a college in Amsterdam. His heroic work took place in 1942-43, during World War 2, when Holland was occupied by the Nazis. Jews were being rounded up and ‘processed’ for sending to concentration camps where most of them would die.
Next door to van Hulst’s college was a preschool. He learned that it was used by the Nazis to house young Jewish children who had been taken away from their parents to await deportation and almost certain death. A secret operation began. In between the college and the preschool was a big hedge. Nurses in the preschool would pass little Jewish children, one by one, through the hedge to van Hulst and his helpers. From there, he would have them smuggled to a safe location. It was a slow, painstaking process, but necessary to avoid arousing suspicion: Nazi officers were patrolling the street outside.
What a wonderful work, you say. But for van Hulst, it was painful in the extreme. Why? Was he afraid of being caught? No. Was he worried that a child would betray them? No.
It was the sad fact that, because of the logistics involved, only some of the children could be saved. And it was van Hulst himself with his helpers who had to decide which children would be saved. ‘We had to make a choice,’ he said in an interview just a year before his death in March 2018. ‘One of the most horrible things was to make a choice.’
God is able to save the whole world and, just as important, He’s willing. He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to rescue sinners from eternal damnationImagine what it would be like for the children… those old enough to understand the situation waiting and wondering, ‘Will he choose me?’ And poor, haunted Johan van Hulst! Not long before he died his words were, ‘I only think about what I have not been able to do, about those few thousand children that I could not save.’
Step back for a moment: imagine what it would be like if God couldn’t save everyone! What if we poor sinners had to wait while God looked us over and chose which of us He could take into Heaven, leaving the rest to perish eternally?
But no, the contrast is gloriously striking. God is able to save the whole world and, just as important, He’s willing. He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to rescue sinners from eternal damnation. The Saviour died so that anyone at all, by trusting in Him, can have their sins forgiven and be sure of Heaven. The Bible says, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Is there anyone left out of this word “whoever”?
So it is not a case of God choosing whether you can go to Heaven. Instead it is YOU choosing whether you will go to Heaven. God sets before you the way of life and the way of death. He says, “Choose life” (Deuteronomy 30: 19). Dear friend, take heed. There is too much at stake to make the wrong choice. God’s arms of love are open wide. The Lord Jesus calls you to come to Him but, in the end, it is your choice.
L. M. Thompson
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