Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Easter = New Life
During the end of the kids' Spring Break, we went to see my parents in Galesburg. My Grandmother (technically, my mom's step-mom, who had been living with my parents the last two years) had a stroke on March 14th. The day we arrived in Galesburg, she had been transferred out of the hospital and into a nursing home. She requires around-the-clock care that my parents just aren't qualified to provide at this point. We visited her several times each day of our stay, bringing new artwork from Lily, and other things to make her room feel less institutional.
For the last at least 40 or 50 years, various people in her life (her sister, my folks, me, my brother, a cousin.. that I know of...) have shared the Gospel with her. Her response was always something along the line of, "I don't need that, I'm a good person." Sometimes her responses would be a crankier version of that, other times a contemplative no thanks.
But one evening, while we were saying good night, my dad asked if he could pray for her, and she said yes. Ever since she'd been in the hospital, this had become a sort of nightly thing for them. We were all there, so we gathered around her (me, my parents, and all three kids) and put a hand on her. While praying, my dad asked her if she'd like to ask Jesus into her heart. Would you believe it? She said yes! Right there! The kids got to hear and see this great thing happening. She repeated after my dad, simply saying, "Jesus, come into my heart." And she cried afterwards. I really sensed that it was a moment of surrender for her. Mentally, she has good and bad days, but she knew what she was doing that night, and she remembers it, knows what it meant.
Leave it to me to take an exciting moment like this, analyze it to death, and find some sadness in it. That's what I've done. It is a wonderful thing that her eternal life is secure. It is. And I'm thrilled that my kids got to be there to see it happen. But it saddens me a bit, because she's at the end of her life, and she will (most likely) miss out on the chance to actually follow Christ. You see, I don't think salvation is just a ticket to heaven, or, as I've heard it called, a "fire insurance policy." It's a chance to be in relationship with Him, to know Him better, to follow His plans for your life, and enjoy the blessings he has for you. It's a chance to see the fruit of the Spirit flow from the Spirit out of you...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, all those good things we can't manufacture or sustain on our own.
There's more to it than uttering that prayer, at least I think that's God's hope and design--that there be more to it. I'm not saying that once you've accepted His salvation you have to become a certain kind of person, or follow a prescribed list of rules. But God is in the heart-changing business, and if you wait til the end of your life, you missed out.