I’ve been sharing about God’s threefold rescue mission to call me back when I was running from Him. The first part of that rescue mission was my dad’s heart attack. That was a big wake up call for me. Next, God sent Beckey (now my wife) back into my life. Her response to me showed how far I had run from God. Finally, God sent one more person to rescue me and call me back to my Father.
When I was 16, I was trained to take part in the follow-up for the Billy Graham rallies that were taking place in Bristol. As counselors, we were encouraged to work with people who came forward that were about our same age and our same gender. That worked well for the first few nights of the outreach but not at all for the final night. So many people came forward that the leaders just told us to take 3 people each. One of the people I connected with was a gentleman who I guessed was in his late forties. His name was Mike. I had the privilege of leading him and two other people to the Lord that night.
The following Sunday, I was surprised to see Mike at the church I attended. He told me he had connected with the leaders of the crusade and asked to go to the church that I attend. That was the start of a friendship that developed over the next couple of years. But in my late teens, I ran far from God.
Fast forward a few years …
One Sunday, for a number of different reasons, I agreed to go to church. This was the first time I went to church in over a year. I had made a deal with my dad that as the closing prayer started He would give me his car keys and I would wait for my parents in their car. My exit planned worked well. I sat in the car outside listening to music when there was a knock at the window. I looked and saw Mike standing there. I let him in and just sat there looking straight ahead. There was an awkward silence for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, I looked across at this precious friend and realized why he wasn’t talking. Each time he tried to speak he would swallow, fighting back the tears. He just sat there. There was no lecture, no condemning looks, just this dear man fighting back tears.
Eventually, Mike said, “Of all the people that would run from God I never thought it would be you … not you, Glyn.” He didn’t say that to condemn me, but to care for me. For the first time in years, I saw in a small but very real way the impact my sin had on others – and especially the impact my rebellion had on my loving Savior, Jesus. I saw Christ through Mike’s response. I sensed how the Lord had wept over my running. That event changed my life. I repented of my sin and asked the Lord to forgive me.
The Lord allowed us to share more years of friendship after Mike wept over my sin. He was nearly 60 when he was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the day when Mike died. He was the kindest, most loving friend. As I sat with him on his death bed he looked over at me and said, “I know where I’m going.” He was saying, “You are safe now Glyn, you are at home.” Even as he was dying, dear Mike was thinking of others over himself. I will never forget those conversations with Mike.
God extends many chances for us to respond, I’m so grateful that God ran hard after me. He would not let me go!
Have a good week.