Posted by: mikenicholsblog | May 19, 2020

keep praying and believing, knowing …

Who is that one person you have prayed and prayed over? You want them to know Christ as Savior so badly, but your fear says they will never take the step of faith and may have even stunted your prayers for them. Would you allow me to offer this very personal story as an encouragement to you to keep praying? …

It’s been almost twenty years now since he first walked into my office. My new acquaintance shared that he wanted to do business with me because I helped with the funerals of both his mother and father. The strange-but-honest truth was, I had no recollection of his parents. But he wanted my help, and I was all in!

Over time, Jerry and I became good friends in business, sports, and everyday life. In all of it, however, there was a wall I could approach but never get quite close enough to scale and cross over. It was made of spiritual matter that mattered a great deal to me! Have you ever tried to strike up a conversation about faith, Christ, and eternity, only to strike out? And in a way, that although polite, quite clearly said, “We aren’t going there.” Well, I have … and I did, repeatedly.

Somewhere in our first decade of friendship, Jerry got throat cancer and my desire to be a witness for Christ deepened. He had one set back after another, and it was hard for him to even have lunch with me because of his reduced throat capacity. Our friendship grew during that time, but so did my urgency and concern over my perceived lack of effectiveness for Christ. I tried different angles, even once giving him the book The Purpose Driven Life. But I continued to strike out in my trying to strike up discussions about faith. We were fast friends as it related to all our local sports teams (which included the awesome Ohio State Buckeyes – sorry, not sorry, for the shameless bias) and we shared a lot about our kids, but I couldn’t ever quite get close enough to conversations about the thing that mattered most to me.

Reaching the later stages of our second decade of friendship, it became obvious that Jerry was getting weaker. My guilt grew as my perception grew of not being the best witness I could possibly be. I was great at putting Jerry on my prayer list, but then I would fail to speak up. I would eventually try to strike up, but then always struck out. Do you ever have similar feelings or failings?

Jerry and I never faltered in talking sports, life, and business, but always failed to get to what I really wanted to talk about. I questioned if he would ever come to Christ. Then, on November 27th, 2017, Jerry spoke words that were all-at-once shock and thrilling to me:

“I need to make my peace with God.”

That was how our conversation began.

Jerry made it clear that day that he would not just make a decision. He had questions, but no intention of making a decision. But God was working, and I was intent on seeing this through.

Time passed, and Jerry became desperately weak. I will never forget the day I went to see him in the hospital determined not to leave until he made a decision. As I walked into his room, he said, “Before you say anything, I accepted Christ.” He had made a decision of faith in Jesus after watching a couple of church services on TV. And he wanted me to know! I left the room for a few minutes and upon returning found another friend speaking with Jerry. And what were Jerry’s first words to me?

“Tell him what I did!”

… and I shared with the man about my dear friend’s conversion.

To this day, there is no doubt in my mind that Jerry is with Jesus. I felt prompted to write this story because you may have a Jerry in your life. His or her name may be different, but you’ve prayed and prayed over ___________. You’ve questioned if they will ever accept Christ. You may even be frustrated that you haven’t done enough. But your journey with ___________ isn’t over, and God’s power to work is far beyond your capacity to understand … or try. So, keep praying and believing, knowing that God will do His part. Remember, He gave His only Son for ____________.

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