Saturday, November 10, 2007

I’ve been up since two o’clock in the morning—and it’s now nearing eleven at night. That means I’m three hours short of a full day with no sleep. And honestly, I haven’t even felt remotely sleepy until now. Too much happening, around me and inside me.

Free Day at the dental clinic started off about like a duck with a lame wing. Don’s mom ended up going to the hospital for heart trouble and he drove out to be with her, so Dr. Moore was the only dentist. They split the list in half and only worked twenty-five patients. Miraculously, everything was finished up before lunch, so the gospel sharers scheduled to come after lunch never even made it out.

Meagan came with me as my lovely assistant, and was great moral support and has some great scriptures to add multiple times. The first five people I talked with were already believers—really and truly healthy Christians. They passed all the tests with which I grilled them. Disappointment began to wrap it’s cold fingers around my heart, but the Lord encouraged me to reach out to them as His children—whom He had brought there that day for whatever purpose. The next lady was also a believer, but was not in her Bible like she should be. She mentioned several of her favorite stories, all conveniently from the gospel of John, so I just opened the Word and began reading with her until the doctor came in.

After that we talked to a nineteen-year-old girl about to have her wisdom teeth removed. She claimed to be Baptist, professed a deep love for Jesus and believed that when she died she would come back around as something else—a panther, she hoped. I launched in with the ten commandments and finally worked her around to admission that she deserved hell. Then she took refuge in two things—a false belief that Jesus loved everyone and forgave everyone because that’s what her preacher Grandpa told her, and a stubborn unwillingness to allow Jesus to “pay her fine”. She felt like she should pay the penalty for her own sins. Sadly, if she continues in them, she will.

We talked with her for over an hour before coming back out into the daylight to catch our breath. The office manager told us she thought all the rest of the patients on that wing had been spoken to, so when Nick asked me to talk to a lady in one of the rooms, I very nearly told him “no”. He pointed out that she had no blue bag (the goodie bags we gave each patient, complete with a Bible, “Hell’s Best Kept Secret”, a tract and another booklet), so I dutifully entered and inquired if anyone had spoken with her.

Ellen was her name, her face and figure bore traces of at least fifty hard years and no one had yet visited with her. I asked about her religious background. She, too, was Baptist. I asked her who Jesus was. She responded that He was her best friend and she prayed to Him all the time—even that He was the one who had gotten her there today. Seeking a confession of His deity, I questioned why she would pray to Him. From there I launched into the good person gospel message. She was almost too compliant. After going through a few of the ten commandments, she proclaimed herself guilty, headed for hell and concerned about it. So I shared God’s beautiful story—who Jesus really was and why He is worthy of our worship. I wound up with the need for repentance and trust in Jesus and asked, “Is that something you’d like to do?”

I’ve gotten this far with people in the past. Some had even been receptive until this question, when they’d immediately discovered some convenient excuse to delay.

The simple word startled me. “Yes.”

My heart leaped and lodged in my throat. “You would?”

“Yes!” she said, determination in her voice.

I asked her just to pray to the Lord, and she did, the poured out soul of the penitent. I knelt beside her and held her hand as we both cried and prayed.

When I opened my eyes to look at her the light of Christ had filled her eyes and face. And sketched across her features was hunger—for more. “Give me a hug,” she pleaded. I showed her the Bible in her pack, found and marked the gospel of John for her, exchanged phone numbers, and gave her a highlighter for her reading. Immediately she began reading, urging me to go on so I could share the good news with others.

I squeezed her shoulder and whispered, “I love you.”

She echoed the words and added, “Thank you.”

When I brought the others in to meet her later, by their request, she had already read and marked up the first couple of chapters in John. “It’s good so far!” she smiled, and at that moment she seemed the most beautiful woman God has ever made. I understand, now, why a mother always thinks her baby the most beautiful.

Ellen was the last person any of us spoke to today. And she was very nearly missed. But she was right. Jesus had brought her there on purpose—even as the last person to be seen, the last person to be spoken to—the only one who made the immediate decision to make Him Lord. I was awestruck, watching the Lord work in a heart He had already prepared. I did so little, said so little—yet His Holy Spirit quickened her spirit to respond and all the glory was His.

Praise His name!

Lord, I’ve watched Thy word give birth

And measured out it’s perfect worth

To close the mouths of all in sin

Revitalize the soul within.

I praise Thee for the chance to see

Thy grace across eternity

To know that Thou art three times holy

And that this work comes from Thee only.

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