Sunday, October 22, 2006

Here I Go Again

A brief advisory. The following is not what you expected to read here, I'm sure, but please press on.

Sometimes God just simply gives you opportunities. He knows that you probably won't grasp the importance of the moment, but He gives you the opportunity anyway. In the first place, if you follow through, it helps His cause. Secondly, if you pass on the opportunity, well then that tells Him something about where you are in your walk too. And by the way, I find myself all too often fitting into the "secondly" category. Praise God that He doesn't give up on me.

It was sometime in early 2001 when I first met David. He had begun 'visiting' our church, where his wife had been faithfully attending and serving for several years. David's wife, Jill, was Austin's puppet ministry leader and children's church teacher at the time. Austin really liked Jill and participated in every puppet ministry activity he could. David, however, was new to this church thing and trying to figure out how to fit in. He had alot of 'stuff' haunting him that many of us didn't even know until later. I didn't know that much about David, but tried to be polite when our paths occasionally crossed at church. By the way, as a Christian, I have since learned that our paths with brothers and sisters at church should not cross only by occassional sequences of events. Rather, we should seek out our brothers and sisters and lift them up in the name of the Lord.

Anyway, David had been attending church for several months, when one evening at our monthly family night dinner, he approached me and asked if I would pray with him and for him. "Yes, I would," I said and filed the thought away in the back of my mind. What happened next surprised me. You see, David had been reading God's word and was about to put it into practice.

James 5:14-16 says "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confes your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

David, in his struggles with addiction was desperately searching the Bible for something that would help him when God revealed this passage to him. Aha! That's it. David had spent the first 40 or so years of his life, deep in substance abuse and living on the edge. Jill patiently endured David's lifestyle, counting fully on the faith she was building up in serving the various ministries at church. And now, David had finally come to church, but apparently still struggled with his transgressions, occassionally succumbing to the desires and the addictive nature of his abuses.

Fortunately, and by the grace of God, David's path had not caused unspeakable calamity in the lives of anyone else --- yet. Again, Jill (and undoubtedly others in David's family) had endured his misdeeds, but so far, no one had lost their life. I don't know what happened, but suddenly on this particular family night in the fall of 2001, David had come to the point of calling God's bluff. He realized he couldn't beat his addictions and was apparently afraid that if he didn't do something drastic, something bad was about to happen (or maybe had already). That's why he called several of us together and read James 5:14-16 to us and said "Let's do it." Not this week sometime, now! It should be noted that at this point, I was what I would consider a very immature Christian, still not partaking of the solid foods, to use the analogy Jesus often uses.

So it was that several of us met in one of the Sunday school rooms and took turns laying hands on David and praying for him. When my turn came, I had no idea what to pray, so I laid my hands on David's shoulders and God provided the words that needed to be said. I don't even remember what I prayed. I didn't realize at the time what an honor it would be to be in the room that night praying for David. And to a certain extent, still didn't realize it until this week.

You see, David passed away Sunday night at the young age of 47 and in the course of his eulogy, David's pastor related the story of that night to the mourners at David's funeral. Seems David has been telling anyone and everyone about that night as often as he could. After that night, David did more effective and powerful witnessing than anyone I've ever met. He often told us how important that night was to him and that he had felt the Holy Spirit descend upon him the minute we laid hands on him. His life was changed that night by a miracle of God and through the exercising of God's word in faith. How funny, a miracle happened, and I was too immature to know it for what it was. Seems that's been happening to God's people since the days of Bethlehem.

David spent the last five years of his life in constant prayer for his friends, acquaintances, and even people he didn't know. He had a real, God-inspired desire to see people saved and he lived every day like it was his last. He certainly didn't want to miss an opportunity or to fall in the the "secondly" category that many of us find ourselves in all too often. He asked the pastor to appoint him as prayer minister, a job he took as serious as one could possibly do. He kept a journal of prayer requests, praises, and answered prayers and would often drive by one of our houses just to stop and pray for us - what a humbling thing to learn of.

I say all that to say this. When a brother or sister in Christ asks you to pray with them, stop and do it then. Don't wait. Don't give the standard "I'll put you on the prayer list." Hold their hand and pray with them and for them immediately. First, you don't know whether or not you'll get another opportunity and secondly, you have no idea how many lives may be saved for His glory by simple obedience, faith, and exercising God's word. David has taught me that lesson this week.

If you like contemporary Christian music, there's a song by Casting Crowns called "Here I Go Again" that captures very well the struggles that we as Christians face in praying for someone. Listen to the song and see if you find yourself in it - I did. And if you really want to know the story behind the song, check out the book "LifeStories" by Casting Crowns' Mark Hall - absolutely chilling, the story behind this song.

Jerry, Connie, Austin, and Lily Grace
Green, Party of Four


Tina H said...

That was beautiful. Thank you for caring enough about us, your brothers and sisters, to share.

Drew and Lori said...

beautifully written jerry. thank you for those powerful reminders.

Donna said...

Hi Jerry, You do not know me, but after reading several of your postings I feel that I know you. I work with your sister, Donna. This one is so awesome and has spoken a message to my heart today, and reminds me of the power of prayer. Just the Word that David quoted has revived something in my spirit. My words cannot convey what I am feeling at this moment. Please continue your witnessing for the Master. There are so many souls that needs reviving in this hour. With what you are doing with your computer can and has been very instrumental in bringing this to pass in others. On a light note, I always thought of engineers as being so far out until they had not connection with earth, never thought of them as being so far up until they touch the throne of heaven to bring down to the earth. (SMILES) I do not know exactly what I have spoken in this message, I am just pouring out of my heart and will not re-read what I have typed. May God's blessings continue to flow out to you and your family, and please, keep the WORD flowing. I am so full right now so I will stop here.

With much love in Christ, Linda Tisdale

Jill Widner said...

Jerry, David always said that God used you specifically as his vessel of healing that night; that it was when you touched him that he felt the power of the Holy Spirit go through him. But you are too humble a person to tell that part of the story. Thanks for being willing to be used by God that night so David could live the last years of his life free from alcoholism. Keep me in your prayers as I seek God's will amidst the pain.