My uncle was a kind and generous man. He loved people, went to church, and shared his resources; but to him, Jesus was just a good man, not his Savior. As a child I prayed for him every night and my own kids did the same. Even my students prayed for Uncle Carl to come to know Jesus.
At the age of 94, Uncle Carl’s health started failing. After years of so many people praying, was he really going to leave this earth still denying Christ? One day my aunt called and asked us to come visit; she had a surprise! We walked into their house and something was different. A new sense of life and joy permeated the home. As we walked towards Uncle Carl’s hospital bed in the living room, he looked up at us and declared, “I’m a new man! I have the Lord!” We looked at each other in disbelief and then back at Uncle Carl to see a huge grin spread across his face that suddenly appeared to be decades younger. Our 12-year-old son excitedly said to him, “Uncle Carl, you are going to get to see Jesus soon! And you won’t feel anymore pain!” He responded with a big smile and, “That sounds just fine.” We were all overjoyed! Our faith had increased.
The following Monday I gathered all 52 of my 6th grade Bible students and shared with them the big news, “Uncle Carl put his faith in Jesus as his Savior!” They all cheered! They had been praying for him for almost two years. At that moment God gave me a new glimpse into his sovereignty. I had questioned for many years why God was not using Uncle Carl, a kind and generous man, as a testimony of a follower of Christ. Now, at the end of his life, I saw God glorified as my own kids, my students and so many others who had prayed for him, had their faith increased. It brought me to a new understanding of Isaiah 55:8, “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’” Could God have been glorified had Uncle Carl come to know him at a young age? Of course! Yet God was showing us a different kind of testimony. Ten days later, Uncle Carl got to see Jesus face to face.
Uncle Carl had spent his entire life trying to earn favor, and in his final days, he finally saw that the reward of life with Jesus was there waiting for him; not to be earned, but to be received. I’ll admit, there were times when my prayers for him lacked faith. Who are you praying for today? Do you ever feel like giving up? Try recommitting the process, and not just the result, to God. The outcome may not be exactly what you are praying for, but in relinquishing your will to God, your faith will increase and God will be glorified.
Women’s Ministry Director