On Saturday while at a conference in Seattle, I was waiting to do my next presentation when I received a text message from Melinda. It simply said, “Chuck Colson is in Heaven.”
After a few moments of deep, very mixed emotions of sadness and happiness, the first phrase that came to my mind was, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I texted that single line back.
Though I knew Chuck—we had worked together a number of times—we were really more colleagues on a first-name basis than friends. Even so, it was hard to be around him at all and not be influenced by him.
I first met Chuck in the early 90s when I was interviewed in D.C. as a potential writer for Breakpoint. I didn’t get the job, but I did have a brief audience with Chuck. Though he was entirely gracious and cordial, I was a bit tongue-tied, being in the presence of genuine greatness. And Chuck Colson was a great man, in all the important ways.
We had both become Christians the same year (1973), and when Born Again eventually came out I devoured it. It was a vivid testimony of the power of God to take a powerful and prideful man and transform him into a powerful and humble servant.
Around ten years ago I heard Chuck reflect that his years were numbered, so he resolved to redouble his efforts, dedicating his remaining time to do anything and everything he could to build the Kingdom of God. He didn’t want to waste a moment or squander an opportunity. He wanted to leave a legacy, not for his sake, but for Christ’s sake.
When Chuck fell critically ill, someone on our staff wondered who would replace him. I simply said, “No one.” I didn’t mean Chuck Colson was indispensable. Nobody in the Kingdom of God plays such a role. I simply meant he was utterly distinctive, making a singular contribution at a defining moment in history.
Chuck Colson was a man I looked up to. He was someone I learned from, not only from his books, but even more from the example of a life well-lived, a man laboring faithfully for Christ. I was instructed by his stature as a Christian statesman, and by his tireless, humble, service for the cause of Christ.
Chuck Colson didn’t just run the race well. He finished the race. May we each, by God’s grace, do as well as he, and hear—as he did—when we cross the line: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”