Monday, June 29, 2009

Oh You Of Little Faith

"He replied, 'Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.' " Matthew 17:20-21

My faith was tested this week. The test was not through trial or temptation. Rather, it was a test of how much faith I had that God would answer fervent and desperate prayers for a dying friend who, by all appearances, was going to leave this world an unsaved man. My husband, Steve, and I did not know that God was working behind the scenes and His reply would be as much for us as it was for our friend, Don.

Don lived a life void of Godliness. At one point in our lives, we shared in his worldliness until we met and embraced Jesus and turned from it. Although we had begun a new life in Christ and lived over 350 miles apart, we would on occasion see Don. His life had settled down and he had matured, but there was no evidence of change in his spirituality, never any mention of God and his eternal destination. In retrospect, Don lived his life as the average man lives it. He worked and saved and stored his treasures here on earth. It was not until his diagnosis that something stirred within him that gave us hope.

Last fall Steve received a surprise phone call from Don with news the doctors had found a spot on his lung. He asked Steve to pray for him. We were dumbfounded, simply because Don had never before demonstrated even the smallest amount of faith. We praised God that He moved Don to call Steve and began a vigil of prayer and witnessing we hoped would prove fruitful. But disappointment and sadness swept over us as we watched Don refuse to open his door for our Pastor or others who could help him through his ordeal. Precious months flew by, the cancer spread throughout his body, treatment ended, and his friends and family faced the inevitable fact Don was dying. We heard no confession of faith, his door still appeared closed, and we grieved. But not before one final attempt to reach him was made.

This week Steve had received the terrible news that Don had only days or hours left. We were told he was semi-comatose and unable to communicate. A last prayer request for God’s intervention was sent to my list of prayer warriors. We settled into despair and waited for the final phone call. However, the message we received was to be the one we least expected but had hoped and prayed for. It was the one that seemingly would be left unanswered. Through a “last chance” effort, a faithful servant, Pastor Paul, obeyed God’s call to attempt one more time to see our dying friend. The door was opened, he was received with gladness and surrounded by his wife and others who may have needed to hear Don’s confession of faith. Though Don was unable to speak clearly, his nodded assent to the vital questions asked confirmed his eternal salvation and restored peace and joy to our hearts. We would again one day see our beloved friend.

The question of when Don accepted Christ still lingers; no longer out of concern, but curiosity. Like the prodigal son, it could have been in his childhood, or his 61-year journey through life. It may have been during the hearing of a testimony and the Gospel message at another good friend’s funeral last year. Perhaps it happened the moment before he called Steve asking for prayer, through the agony of his trial, or in his bed as he lay waiting to die. We do not know. Don was private or unable to pinpoint the time and did not speak of it. But this we do know: Don is saved and God will bring him home into his Savior’s arms.

I now realize that God used Don’s ordeal to bring me through a test of my own faith. I had placed my hope in Don taking the first step rather than the Lord opening his heart to Him. I had forgotten that He diligently seeks those who belong to Him. And although He would prefer we had a part in it, He is capable of doing it without our help. I spent last night praising our gracious and merciful God. I thanked Him for using so many faithful servants to remind Don of his need of Christ. His work brought confirmation to my husband that he can be an effective witness for Jesus. But I especially thanked Him for reminding me He can and will answer my prayers. He is forever faithful that way.

Like the mustard seed, my faith was small. But through this lesson, my “little faith” has grown. I praise Him for allowing me to see the "mountain" moved as He promised. And I pray
my faith will continue to grow until all doubt is swept away.

Thank You, Lord. Thank You for helping me pass this test!

(We received a phone call tonight to let us know that Don is now at rest with his Lord. God answered another prayer today. We asked Him to make Don's passing peaceful and He was faithful to that request, too. Praise Him!)

Recommended reading (I have hyperlinked these passages. Just click on them to read):

Mathew 6:30; 8:26; 17:20; 21:21

Mark 6:5-6

1Corinthians 13:2

Hebrews 11:1-6; 12:2

Romans 10:9