“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 (NASB).
The bone cancer was winning the battle; Uncle Joe was losing.
After traveling 1,700 miles, my husband and I stood at his hospital bedside. This time when I tried to share the gospel, he listened, which was not only an answer to prayer, but a miracle.
The next day an elderly roommate poked his head around the curtain, wearing a baseball cap that read, “I love Jesus.” With a voice of authority, he said, “Joe, I’d like to tell you about my Boss who I’ve served for over 50 years.” Using his own amazing testimony, Don also shared the gospel. With tears in my eyes, I stifled a smile at how the Lord was working.
Don wholeheartedly loved the Lord. In his 80s, he was still regularly traveling to Guatemala, relying on the Lord for the funds to go and share the love of Jesus.
When a nurse came into the room, the three of us ducked behind the curtain. As I told Don about our prayer for someone to share with my uncle, his eyes widened. When the nurse finished, Don pushed back the curtain and said, “Joe, I’d like to pray over you.”
“Go ahead,” he replied, “but I don’t think it will do any good.” The Lord performed yet another miracle. The three of us laid hands on a stubborn man, whose resolve seemed to be crumbling.
When Don finished, my husband and I laid hands on him, beseeching the Lord for healing and safety on his upcoming trip to Central America.
When we returned from lunch, Don was gone. A cousin commented how one minute he was there and the next he wasn’t. Apparently, Don had checked himself out of the hospital.
For the remainder of the afternoon, my uncle was exceedingly quiet. Being a deep thinker, we’d like to imagine he was contemplating what had been shared, and that the Holy Spirit was convicting him.
After the hospital staff admitted there was nothing more to be done, other than managing his pain, attention was turned toward taking him home.
Aunt Dorothy sat by his bed, the love of 65 years of marriage displayed in her kind and caring eyes. In a weak voice, Joe reached out for his wife’s hand, telling her he didn’t want to go home; he would be a burden to her. With compassion and tenderness, she said, “Joe, why then did we get married, if not to care for one another?”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the full room of family members. He had to surrender, and he knew it.
That night, my husband and I kissed Uncle Joe goodbye, knowing it would be the last time we would see him. He gave me a weak smile and winked at my husband. It was difficult walking away. I wanted to turn back and plead with him to accept Christ, but I knew I couldn’t do that; he’d heard the gospel, and it was the Holy Spirit’s job to convict him, not mine. But at the doorway, I had to turn and look at my dear uncle one more time.
A day and a half later, he passed away peacefully at home in the wee hours of the morning, his wife, two sons, and a granddaughter by his bedside.
We will never know for sure until we are in the presence of the Lord if my uncle accepted Jesus as his Savior. But for now, we will rest in God’s word:
“I know that [God] can do all things and that no purpose of [His] can be thwarted” Job 42:2 (NASB).
Copyright © March 2020 by Marlene S. Briggs, used by permission.