Not long ago a dear friend of mine passed away. She was an awesome older lady who started attending the church I was pastoring when her hairdresser invited her to a Sunday morning worship service. We hit it off right away…she was in her seventies, and to be honest she was quite “spunky.” I had always appreciated her for that quality.
It was my habit to visit her on Tuesday mornings, and would quite often sit with her husband and I would listen to his “war” stories from World War II.” In served in the Army Air Corps (the name of our air forces until the U.S. Airforce was officially established in 1948) and flew multiple missions over Germany as part of a bomber air crew. He was as fascinating as his wife was.
I remember one Tuesday morning that stands out to me, and I will never forget. It was a hot, sultry summer morning in Tennessee, and the humidity looked like fog in the early morning hours. As we sat at the kitchen table (which we often did) drinking a cup of coffee, I sensed that Herman was troubled by something. As we talked, I realized that he was “under conviction” and the Lord had been trying to get his attention.
As I have often done with others, I asked my friend if he had the assurance of eternal life. “Have you come to the place in your life, where you know for a fact that you would go to heaven if you were to die tonight?” His head dropped, and he said, “no sir, I haven’t.”
At that moment, I began to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, and explained that we can know for sure about our spiritual future, and we don’t have to doubt it. I watched as his heart melted and when I had finished presenting the “good news” to him, I asked him, “Would you like to know for sure today?” Without hesitation, he said “yes.”
I reached across the kitchen table and said, “take my hand and let’s pray together.” It was a beautiful moment in time, and there was no doubt the Holy Spirit had been at work in this home. My new “brother in Christ” started attending church, and was quite vocal about his conversion all the way to his death that came some-time-later due to cancer.
Shortly after his death, I was appointed to serve as the presiding bishop of the Northwest Territories Region (MT/ND/SD/WY) and I moved some 1,600 miles away. I stayed in touch with Herman’s wife over the years and one day she fell ill. By the time she passed away, I had been reappointed to serve the Mid America Region (AR/OK) so I was a lot closer.
Her request was that I preach her funeral, and share something about her life. I was deeply saddened by her passing, but at the same time I was honored to be chosen to conduct the service.
I drove the 500 or so miles and fulfilled my promise to her from so many years ago.
With the passing of these two friends, I was allowed by God to see something that countless other ministers have experienced….the completion of a work. You see, much of what ministers do is mostly “unfinished” or you might say works in progress. But, when we can see people’s journey from conversion to “translation,” we have the sense that we’ve completed a job.
As I write (after awakening earlier than usual) my heart is overwhelmed by the Grace of God, who would save people in their later years of life, after not serving Him for so long. I am overwhelmed that God blessed me by knowing Herman and his wife.
As a final note; when Herman passed away, his wife gave me a gold initial ring that she had bought for him in 1945. Since their last name started with an “M” she thought of me first. I still have it, and would not part with it for anything,, and every time I look at it I am reminded of that moment in my life.
I pray that God will give you similar types of opportunities, so that you will experience the same sense of personal fulfillment. I also pray that God will give us thousands of souls for the kingdom of God in Tennessee.