My cousin, Norman, and I grew up living just a few blocks from each other in one of the beautiful cities of the Northwest. I was six months older than he was but when you’re eight that doesn’t matter much. We were buds. His family moved away; then we did, too.
We kept in touch through the years only through an occasional Christmas card. But twenty years ago or so we made contact again and since we were both living in the southeast by then we renewed the friendship. I learned Norman had moved up through the ranks in the Disney organization, became a vice president, and had worked closely with Walt. He had stories to tell that were lots more fun than going to one of the parks.
Then early one morning, about a year ago, Norman’s wife, Barbara phoned to tell us he had died in the night. She was devastated and so were we. If Norman had been a believer he never let on, never spoke about it, and didn’t seem to feel comfortable when we did. Now that she was alone we wanted to talk to her about her Christian journey but we sensed it would need to be on her timing, not ours.
Over the next several months a prayer group we belong to took Barbara on as a love-project. The group meets every day for an hour by phone. When we told them her story the group adopted her and began to pray for her. By name. Every day. They claimed Scripture promises. That God would bring someone into her life He could use to nudge her along the journey. Today was the 97th day of that unbroken intercession.
Just this morning, in Ruthie’s personal prayer time she sensed the time had come, that today was the day God wanted Barbara to take a bold step toward the Jesus she didn’t know. So Ruthie phoned her. After a few minutes of friendly girl-talk Ruthie said, “Barb, is it ok if we talk about Jesus…?” Almost instantly Barbara responded, “Yes, I’d like that.” So they did.
During the next twenty minutes or so – during which time Barbara acknowledged she didn’t have a Bible in the house – Ruthie kept helping her understand how much Jesus loved her. Barbara said over and over, “Ruthie, that’s incredible.” “Ruthie, that’s amazing.” It was almost as though she had never heard the story before. Once she said, “That’s just so incredible, I only wish…” and Ruthie stopped her. “Barbara,” she said, “that’s all it takes. All He wants is a desire from you and He does the rest.” It was as though a great light had dawned.
Both the ladies had tears running down their cheeks. Ruthie asked Barb if she would like to pray the sinners’ prayer, and Barbara followed her through it… “Lord I confess today that I’m a sinner. I repent of my sins. I want to make You my Lord and Saviour and I want to live for Your glory. Amen.” After Ruthie shared some additional promises – and promised to send her a Bible – they hung up. Ruthie and I sat for a long time rejoicing that we had just witnessed a change in the population of eternity.
How about where you live? Anybody you sense in whose life God is working and would have you draft a group and join Him? Why not pray about that? Barbara was stunned when she discovered that a group of people she had never met would care this much. If they did, maybe God did, too.
Did you note how simple the discussion was? More teaching will follow as Barbara seeks to understand how much this God loves her and how her life can bring Him joy. But the first step is to surrender to His lordship in her life. After that any other decisions are much easier.
By Don Jacobsen