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Monday, October 13, 2008

A warm welcome to readers of the Encouragement for Today devotions, and to my regular blog readers. On Tuesday, Proverbs 31 ran a devotion I wrote about not giving up in prayer. I based it on many seasons hearing coaches tell their players to not stop blocking until the whistles blows. If you haven't read it, please click here. (It will be posted Tuesday morning if you read this earlier)

Sadly, it's easy to be discouraged. It's an effective tool of Satan that undermines many victories. The truth is we will never slip into dedication. We won't wake up one day to discover we have suddenly become a person who perseveres till the end. Just like those boys on the football field, it takes practice to be diligent in whatever task is set before us. Praying for our loved ones to come to know Jesus is one of those tasks that is worth whatever it takes to overcome discouragement. I know, because my father is in heaven because of decades of prayer, even when it seemed hopeless.

In my blog today, I'm going to share with you the story of how my dad came to accept Jesus before he died. I pray it encourages you to never give up praying for someone you love. By the way, come back to tomorrow and I'll tell you what Dylan said at my dad's graveside service, and why teaching your kids to pray is important.

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Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:42-43, (NIV)

My dad’s health was failing fast. He’d been admitted to ICU with severe dehydration and aspirated pneumonia after a short stay in a care center. When the ICU nurse started asking us hard questions about my dad’s last wishes, we knew the outlook was grim.

A scientist and biology teacher all his life, my father was practical about matters of life and death. The downside of his pragmatic mind was a resistance to anything spiritual. For years he watched my mother faithfully take my sister and me to church, yet any attempt at a discussion of faith was met with an annoyed change of subject.

Now critically ill, able to respond only in nods, my Dad’s need for Jesus was never more obvious. Our prayers over him grew bolder with each passing hour.

One night my mother and I stood talking with the nurse in charge, while my 12-year-old son Dylan was in with his grandpa. After 10 minutes, Dylan came out, we said our goodbyes to my dad and left the hospital.

On the ride home Dylan was unusually quiet. He finally spoke and said, “Mom, I think Grandpa accepted Jesus tonight.” He went on to explain, “I told him he needed Jesus and I told him why, then I waited a few minutes and asked if he wanted to accept Jesus into his heart, and Grandpa nodded yes.”

There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that at the invitation of a child, and with a nod, my father was immediately adopted into the family of God. Even though Dad couldn’t speak, I believe that nod was enough.

In Jesus’ final hours, He displayed the grace of God towards a broken sinner. Without saying the sinner’s prayer, the thief dying next to Jesus rasped out these words: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). With an answer that rings hope into the hearts of everyone who loves a hardened sinner, Jesus said “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).

The grace of God reached out to that thief on the cross. And the grace of God met my father at his point of greatest need. The incredible news is that God’s amazing grace is there for anyone who admits their need for Jesus and invites Him into their lives, no matter what point in their living … or dying.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to have a conversation with my father, because he got progressively worse and died a week later. Some might say my dad doesn’t deserve to be in heaven after rejecting God for so many years. I would definitely agree. However, I don’t deserve to be in heaven either and I’ve walked with Jesus for most of my life.

I’m eternally grateful that I won’t make it into heaven based on my character, how long I’ve been a Christian or how good a job I’ve done at being one. I’d never make it. The only way any of us receives eternal life is through Jesus. Romans 3:23-24, “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

As I reflect on goodness of God, I’m in awe that His grace extends to a gentle old scientist, unable to feed himself or speak. I imagine God looked down from heaven that night in the hospital and said encouragingly, “Just nod, Richard, I know that’s all you can do right now, and that’s all it will take.”

25 comments:

Joy in The Truth (Sharon Sloan) said...

"...and a little child will lead them." Isaiah 11:6 Wow for Dylan! What a treasure in his heart and for your family!

Yes, by His grace and redemption! You'll see your daddy again in heaven!

Beautiful testimony, Glynnis!

Dolly said...

Oh thank you so much for sharing the story of your Dad. My own Dad accepted Jesus just before his death also. Glynnis, what a gift! My daughter was the one who 'got' to her Grampa.........well really we know it was the Holy Spirit and the time was right for him. We must never give up in Prayer!!!

JottinMama said...

Thank you so much for the devotional and blog this morning.

I have a two year old son - and your words encourage me to be SO intentional about teaching him the things of Jesus!

Thank you :) Have a wonderful day :)

Lee said...

Thank you so much for your story. I am in a similar situation with my father, many times I have given up on praying for him but, this morning after reading your testimony I am encouraged and more determined than ever to pray without ceasing for him.

Thanks Glynnis
May God continue to bless you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Oh you have no idea how close to home you struck today with your devotional! I have been praying for so long for my family to know the joys of living with Jesus in your heart. Thank you for the reminder to keep the prayer line open. You are a blessing! Thank You! Diane

Tammy Nischan said...

I loved your devotion today, and wow! such a great reminder to keep praying for my friends and family who have not yet given their lives to Christ. God's timing is perfect, and He longs for all to know and love Him....

Praying more intentionally for the lost, Tammy

Anonymous said...

This was exactly what I needed today...hope. We've been praying for my grandfather for years. He survived a surgery that he wasn't supposed to make it through last week, so I'm praying for another oppportunity to talk with him about Jesus. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so happy for you that you have the peace of knowing your dad is with Jesus.

Walking said...

I have been inspired by this post and reminded of what I sometimes forget, that we are all unworthy however long we have served God it's because of God's grace and gift of salvation that we are.

Julie Coleman said...

What a fabulous encouragement to all of us to continue pressing on . . . thank you for that devotional this morning and for the wonderful story of your dad. Praise God that you will see him again someday! Praise God for the simple invitation of a child, who could put truth into uncomplicated terms. Thank you for sharing with us, Glynnis.

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Thank you, Glynnis, for this wonderful reminder to never give up praying regardless of the situation. Knowing all too well what a hopeless situation looks like and feels like, you have spoken to my heart encouragement to not give up on my seemingly hopeless situation. When we are down and wondering why God isn't working or what He is doing, satan tries to reinforce His lack of concern. Yet, God sends others to reinforce His work and presence in our lives.

None of us deserve Heaven. How can a person such as your father who lived all his life without God be any worse than those of us who've lived many years with Him yet still have disobeyed and ignored Him at times? The answer is he is not. It doesn't take a verbal acceptance. It doesn't take a life of following. It doesn't even take a certain phrase of repentance. It takes a heart wanting Jesus. Both your father and the man on the cross next to Jesus had it.
Sweet Blessings,
Paula

Pam said...

Thank you for sharing your story about your day. My dad is 82 and still has not accepted Christ. He too has a scientific background and could not grasp the "things of the Spirit." Thanks for reaffirming the power of prayer. I have been greatly encouraged by your story.

God bless you!

Debbie said...

Hello Glynnis,

Thank you for sharing today. What a joy to know your dad is in heaven and that you will be reunited with him someday. It must make heaven seem closer and more real for you.

I had an Aunt who accepted Christ at age 94. I witnessed to her for many years and all she would say is “I’m a good person, and I’ll be in heaven someday, besides, you can’t tell me that the murderer who accepts Christ is going to heaven and I’m not!” She was a “tough cookie” but I kept talking to her and praying for her.

In a Nursing Home one day she finally agreed to pray and ask Jesus into her heart. I didn’t know what to do, in fact I wound up praying the same prayer with her twice because I was utterly shocked myself! I’ll never forget the joy on her face as she prayed asking Jesus into her heart. I look forward to seeing my Aunt Peg someday in heaven.

Praise God for His goodness and mercy in our lives!

Blessings to you!

Debbie Summer

Leslie Oden said...

Thanks for sharing this timely, important message. I prayed for my sister's salvation for four years, not seeing anything change. After years of turning down my invitations to church, she called me the day before Easter and asked if she could go with us. She gave her heart to the Lord that Easter Sunday, and I'm so thankful I didn't stop asking when I didn't see answers . Great Blog!

patricia said...

Thank you so much for reminding me what kind of God we serve. What kind of God do we serve? We reject him, we turn our hearts away from him when it suits us, we even run from him when he calls, then we crucify him afresh by our petty ways even after we come to him. What kind of a God do we serve? He's so loving, so kind, so gentle, so patient, just waiting to forgive us.
Your post brought a tear to my eyes, and deep conviction to my heart, especially the part about what we deserve. I know I surely deserve hell and damnation, but for the grace of my God.
I have been praying for my six (6) kids and I know that My GOD will come true because He is faithful.

CONNIE MAC said...

IM NEW TO THIS SIGHT AND READ YOUR BLOG ABOUT YOUR DAD AND HOW YOUR SON TALKED TO YOUR DAD ABOUT JESUS AND REALLY TOUCHED MY HEART AND IM PROUD TO KNOW THAT WE SERVE A LIVING GOD ; THANK YOU FOR SHARING AND GOD BLESS YOU AND YOURS

commish07 said...

Just this same day as your blog post, I went to the hospital of a man in his 50's whose liver and kidneys were shutting down. He was pure yellow all over. He was my cousin's friend but I had met him years ago.

I started by telling him how much Jesus loved him. I then told of what Jesus did for him. When I finished saying everything, I just looked him in the eye and said, "Do you believe?". With hardly any breath in his lungs, he mouthed the words, "I believe".
I can now only praise God for unveiling this man's eyes as he was hours from dying.
We serve a God who never gives up on us. To him be the glory!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your message today. It touched my heart and brought tears flowing down my cheeks. Sometimes I also get discouraged and tired from praying for my son and two sisters that have left the faith many years ago. It hurts and we wonder, "How long oh Lord?"

God bless your ministry and for giving us fresh hope in knowing that it is all in God's time and His way!

Joyful said...

Glynnis, this is so beauiful. Thank you for sharing this story about your Dad. Thank you for the encouragement to never stop praying.

Today started a 72 hour concentrated prayer effort for a family in our church. The husband/father has an inoperable brain tumor. It was diagnosed 6 years ago and he has undergone some procedures and treatments, but currently things are progressing and it will take a miracle to bring healing. We know God is able and we will continue in prayer and trust him in His care.

I always think of David as he prayed that the Lord would not take his son. David kept praying until the end, always believing and hoping. God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we desire, but we need to keep praying. This morning at Bible study at my church we talked about how sometimes God will risk being misunderstood because He knows the glory in the end will be worth it all. In the midst of a painful process we can hold onto His promises.

Continuing in prayer until the whistle blows,
Joy

WandaT said...

I have often told my husband that I might not be the one to win my parents heart to Christ, but our children will.
I too, will not stop until the whistle blows.

Laurie Ann said...

Praise God for your father's acceptance! Those who say he shouldnn't be in Heaven because of the last-minute acceptance need to remember the one on the cross and I there's also a parable about a man paying workers who only worked a few hours the same amount of wages he paid others who had worked all day. God is a God of second chances and when He calls us, He calls us. I am so impressed by Dylan's willingness to ask the hard question and be such a blessing to your dad. Bless him. And bless you for sharing this precious story with us.

Jennifer said...

That was a precious and heartwarming story. I am rejoicing that your dad is in Heaven and encouraged to keep praying. Its not that I have stopped praying for certain requests but each day that it SEEMS there is no answer, Satan chips away at my confidence and belief that God answers my prayers. I want to continue to come before Him BOLDLY...not wavering - thank you for reminding me, God answers prayer.

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful and inspirational - thank you for sharing.
Gwen

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the fact that we can try so hard to be the best Christians in the world and we can't even TOUCH PERFECTION. Perfection was and is Jesus Christ. I offer up the pain I feel in my legs to Him in rememberance of what He did for us! I know my prayers for my children's rebirth will be answered in God's own good time.

Chris Willis said...

I join with all the other's responding to your story about your Dad's salvation.
I have been praying for my husband for many years. He did make a commitment early in our marriage, about 30 years ago, but 'stuff' happened in his life and he walked away from faith.
I know how important it is to keep praying ad I have to admit that at times I loose heart that anything will be any different, so your story is a real encouragement to persist....even when all looks bleak.
Thank you for sharing.

Cheri said...

What a beautiful story! It truly touches my heart. The message to never give up in prayer means a lot to me.

Thanks Glynnis for sharing,