When we think of the change that God has made in our own life, we know we should be sharing that with others. But doing so requires a decision on our part! Read how Karen N. made the choice to share the Good News, and the life-changing decision that followed.
Our new nursing home outreach, Sparrow Watch, was in its fledgling state when I met Catherine, a resident at a local skilled nursing facility. The volunteer coordinator had assigned us lonely residents; Catherine was the 3rd on my list, and I only stopped by her room on my first day there because my other two “sparrows” were sleeping.
Catherine, a frail, bruised woman, was only 65, but longtime drug abuse had aged her unmercifully. After some small talk, she abruptly confided she was scared to death of an upcoming surgery. I suggested we pray about it, but she countered, saying, “I don’t deserve to have God listen to my prayers—I haven’t been a good person.”
I told her that made two of us—in fact, no one deserved to have God listen; we were all sinners but Jesus made a way for us. I told her about my prodigal days and how God never gave up on me. She told me she was raised Catholic and had wanted to be a nun when she was a little girl. I said, “Then you understand that Jesus’ death on the cross means we can have peace with God. That His blood paid for our sins.” She nodded. Meanwhile, in my head, I was yelling “God, are you KIDDING ME?? I am totally not ready to tell this woman about salvation!”
I don’t remember much of the conversation after that. When she said it was too late, and said she’d wasted her life, I shared the story of the thief on the cross. I told her Jesus was the Good Shepherd; how He went looking for the bad, wandering sheep, because He loved it so much. She soaked in these stories with no resistance, starved for hope. As I read her Bible verses, I wrote them on sticky notes and stuck them on her bedside table. She was touchingly grateful.
About 30 minutes after we’d started talking, I felt the Lord saying “pop the question.” I nervously said, “You can know you’re going to Heaven for sure. You can know you’re God’s child by asking Jesus to come into your heart” (or something like that)—all she had to do was pray. I knocked on the wooden bedside tray and said, “He says He stands at the door and knocks and all we have to do is ask Him in and He will be with us forever.” She said “Oh, I don’t know how to do that. I would have no idea what to do.”
I could see God wasn’t letting me off the hook, so I said, “Okay, well, I’ll pray first and you can follow along after me, in your head or out-loud, however you’re comfortable.” She closed her eyes and folded her hands, like a little girl. I prayed aloud what I had just heard Pastor Greg Laurie pray that morning on his radio program…the sinner’s prayer. She prayed, aloud, phrase by phrase, right along after me, as a child would. After we prayed, she put her hand on her heart and said “I don’t believe it!” I asked her what she meant. She said, “I’m not afraid anymore. That feeling is just gone. I just can’t believe it.”
I told her that was because the Holy Spirit is now in her heart and Jesus will never leave her, nor forsake her. “I think God must have sent you,” she said. “It’s like a miracle!” I told her she was absolutely right; God did send me because He loved her so much, He wanted to make sure she knew she was going to Heaven. We hugged and I left, feeling like someone had hit me upside the head with a cast iron skillet. “What just happened here?” was all I could think. I had never had the honor of leading someone to Jesus and certainly was NOT equipped or prepared for it, except by God’s amazing grace and the intercession of the Holy Spirit.
The next time I visited, I told her the story of the woman at the well and gave her a hot pink Bible promises book and a bookmark illustrating the lost sheep story. (I’d asked the Lord what she needed and these were what He pointed out. I said “Hot pink? Really?” The Lord said “Yes. That one.” I asked her if the color was okay and she said “Actually, it’s my favorite color!” Of course!) When I gave her the bookmark, I said “See? This is like you and Jesus. He’s got you in His arms and He’s never letting go.” She wept for joy and hugged me.
The next week was her birthday; I brought her a little gift bag and a Billy Graham tract. When she pulled the tract out, I said “That’s a little reminder of what we talked about; it’s just a little thing.” She looked at me and said “A little thing?” in a tone that said “this is anything *but* little.” She immediately started reading it very intently, ignoring her party guests, me and another resident there to help her celebrate her day.
I couldn’t visit the next weekend, and had decided I’d start going after work on weekdays, since her daughter occasionally came on weekends. When I arrived at her room that next Tuesday evening, I found her bed stripped and her clothes bundled into plastic bags. The nurse on the floor confirmed my sad supposition: my fragile friend had died on Sunday, exactly one month from our first visit. Catherine was forever safe in the arms of her Good Shepherd, a fallen sparrow seen and cared for by her Heavenly Father. What if I hadn’t popped the question…?
Who in your life needs to experience the life-changing, hope-giving salvation Jesus offers? Who needs you to pop the question?