SUNDAY AFTERNOON FIRE
With Sunday afternoon dinner finished I usually collapsed onto the living room recliner for a well-deserved nap, and time to read, hoping the phone would not ring too often. How I enjoyed those times, after having my usual very-hectic week. Then came the fire that changed it all. It was a fire that exploded in my heart. My brother-in-law, a local hospital chaplain, challenged our FGBI students and me about hospital ministry. I was never the same again. Early this year I gave up my usual Sunday afternoon habits, and committed to visit hospital patients. I must say I have been absolutely astounded at the number of souls the Lord has saved, almost every Sunday, and sometimes three in one afternoon. Why did I wait so long to begin? What if I had started this years ago? What if you started it this week? Let me share some of these thrilling experiences with you.
100 YEAR-OLD AMELIA
When I discovered that a lady in the next room was 100 years old, my heart almost burst with excitement. “I’ve got to win her!” I thought. I prayed that the Lord would give me the key to her heart. Amelia was pretty and perky, all “fixed up” and ready for company. She invited me to sit down like we were going to have a tea party, and we started to talk. She told me about her health problems and I asked her about her church background. Her mother made her go to the Baptist church until age sixteen. She said she lived a good life and was close to her mother. I could tell she was not saved and I was desperate for a way to break through to her, a woman on the edge of eternity. Suddenly I felt directed by the Lord.
“Amelia, you and your mother were pretty close. Do you think God wants us to be close to Him, like you were close to your mother?”
Amelia thought for a moment and replied, “Yes, like a friendship.”
“That’s a good answer, Amelia! Isn’t it true that over the years a friendship and relationship with God can grow cold and almost non-existent? We seem to know Him in our head, but not in our heart.”
She quickly agreed and I could tell I hit the target. I asked her how that could happen, and she talked about how our attention could be diverted by other things, and simple neglect, until there is nothing left. She was following me intently with her eyes, absorbing every word.
I continued, sensing the Spirit of God working:
“Amelia, you have lived 100 years. Eternity could begin for you at any moment. The most important thing for you to do right now is to restore that relationship with God. Do you know how to do that?”
I can’t explain how delighted I was when she said with eyes wide and serious, “You tell me.”
I couldn’t wait! First I emphasized her present danger: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great Salvation” I explained that such neglect is sin that she should now confess to God with a repentant heart.
Amelia was ready to do it. She seemed to grasp the urgency of the moment. I reminded her of the familiar wall picture of Jesus knocking at a door and waiting for the door to be opened.
“Jesus is knocking at your heart’s door right now, Amelia. Are you ready to open that door and let Him in? I can pray with you right now, if you would like to restore that relationship with God. “
She said “Yes, that is what I need”, and we prayed together as Amelia came back into the family of God. This sure was a better way to spend Sunday afternoon, far better than just napping in the recliner.
BILL THE BACKSLIDER
Bill wasn’t about to be lying in bed in the presence of a lady! When I entered he abruptly sat up, put his feet down over the side of the bed, stared at me and waited to hear what I had to say.
“Hello, Bill! I’m Claire Beam from the Chaplain’s Department. I came to see if you still have a smile on your face”
That did bring a smile, and broke the ice. We chatted a few minutes about the joys of Jello, and getting poked by needles. When I talked about the need for God during troubling days, Bill responded positively revealing an understanding of the Gospel. I was still feeling my way, unsure of what direction this would take, praying for the Lord’s help. Then a doctor came in and I stepped out into the hall with Bill’s daughter-in-law who clued me in. Bill was very sick and troubled, and had refused to eat since coming to the hospital, but what she said next was really the turning point.
“Bill is a backslider, and has absolutely refused to come back to God.”
My fire was lit. He had to be won, and God could do it. My heart pounded with anticipation of what was about to happen. When would that doctor leave? I was ready.
Back in the room I asked Bill’s permission to talk to him privately. He agreed, and his family stepped outside. I closed the door. This was a battle about to happen, and I stepped forward with every spiritual weapon I could muster. There was no need to delay. Urgency was required, and I felt the Spirit of God as I began.
“Bill, what are you waiting for? You are in great need of God. God has sent me to urge you to return to Him.”
A holy wind from heaven was sweeping through that room, and this 80-year-old man was visibly shaken. I knew the victory was on the way, when I saw big tears flooding his eyes and he said:
“I can’t believe this is happening. You are the third person who has tried to tell me that.”
“See how much Jesus loves you, Bill?” I replied. “How privileged you are to have God care that much to send three people to you with the same message. And, what are you doing about it? Isn’t it time for you to come back and get things cleared up between you and the Lord?”
It is so awesome to see the Lord work this way. I loved every tear that fell down Bill’s face. I rejoiced each time his eyes squinted tightly, his jaw muscles tensed and his lips squeezed together. Something was happening inside. I knew his stubborn heart was melting in the presence of Jehovah! It was a fierce moment of reckoning, and he surrendered.
“Yes, I know it is time. God has been dealing with me.”
In a vital moment like that you move with God’s authority. You can’t just keep talking, or you might talk away that intense conviction.
I immediately replied, “Then what are we waiting for? Let’s pray now!”
All of Heaven was listening during that powerful time of prayer in which he followed my words, intensely and seriously, repenting of his backsliding, asking and receiving forgiveness. And then, sensing assurance that He was back in His Fathers arms, he wept openly, and thanked God with joy.
Such a beautiful thing happened next. Bill was so stirred, that he looked at me and said with the deepest of emotion, “You are an angel from heaven.”
Brothers and Sisters, that is how sinners will feel about you when you care enough to lead them from death to life. You become God’s messenger of deliverance and Salvation. Will you let Him use you?
QUIET, GENTLE FRANK
In another room I found Frank, sitting on a chair with a blanket over his legs. He had a very gentle and shy look, graced by the beginning of a smile.
“Hello, Frank! How are you doing today?” I began.
His reply was very quiet and kind. He was a church-goer, a religious man, but was blank about assurance of Salvation. He hoped he would go to heaven.
I gave Frank a short and simple presentation of the Gospel, using Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Acts 3:19; John 1:12; and Revelation 3:20. It seemed so new to him. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto Salvation to everyone that believeth.
Frank very easily responded, took my hand and prayed most sincerely for the Lord to save him. He was ready to receive the moment he heard. How many more are there who are “religious”, but have never heard a true presentation of the Gospel in a simple way? They are out there, waiting for you!