ILLUSTRATION BY SUZY SCHULTZ
I had been running errands when a little thought registered in my mind: Go
by Linda Millers house.
Linda was a member of my congregation. I often tried to encourage her in her
journey to walk with Christ, be a good mother and win her family to Christ.
Pressed for time, I brushed the thought off, thinking it was just a random
idea popping into my head.
Later, a little more insistently, the thought reappeared: You need to stop
Come on, I muttered. I dont have time, and its late.
It was past eight and dropping by on a Saturday night unannounced was not
what I wanted to do.
The thought kept up its strange jarring, though, and finally I gave in,
pointed my car toward Lindas and sped over.
When I knocked on the door, Lindas mother, Frieda, answered. She stared at
me, sighed with relief and said, Ive been trying to reach you for hours. Its
Frank was Lindas father, an alcoholic whom we had prayed for numerous times.
I thought it might be a drunken scene, but it wasnt. Frank was facing feelings
hed never had before.
Baseball cap on his head, stubble on his chin, alcohol on his breath, Frank
greeted me warmly. But when I sat down, he couldnt speak. Several times he
looked up and said, I ... But he couldnt finish it.
Frieda touched his hand affectionately. Its okay, Frank. Just tell him whats
on your heart.
He got it out. Im a screwup, Mark. And Im scared. Real scared.
Of what? I asked.
He took a long breath. That Im going to die like this, a drinker who never
did his family right. That I cant change now. That its over for
I said gently, Its never too late, Frank. I told him about the thief on the
cross. Frank said he remembered that story, and I said, If it wasnt too late
for him, it cant be too late for you.
Frank shook his head. But God just doesnt know what Ive done.
This time I shook my head. God does know. Look at tonight. Here Friedas been
trying to call me for hours, and then suddenly I just show up at this house,
not even your house. God knew He had to get me here, because He knew what was
on your heart. I believe He did this, Frank. What other reason could there
Frank gazed at me a moment, hope obviously trembling at the edges of his
consciousness, but then he bowed his head again. I dont know. I dont understand
how God could care about me. Ive done nothin for Him. Thats my whole life. A
Frank, I answered, God knows everything youve ever done, the good and the
bad. It doesnt matter any more. He only asks that you accept the gift He offers
in Jesussalvation, eternal life, forgiveness, spiritual powerall of its for
free, if youll just trust Him. God says, Give your sins, your life and your
fear to My Son, and Ill make things right.
Frank stared into my eyes. But I just dont see how He could accept me, the
way I am, the way Ive been.
But He does, I said quietly. I accept you, too.
Frieda echoed: And I do, too, Frank. I love you. Everyone loves you:
Linda, me, the whole family. None of us holds anything against you.
You dont? He looked from me to her and back again.
It felt so good to say, If God accepts you and loves you, then who are we to
He sat there, hat shaking in his hand, a spiritual battle obviously raging
in his soul. Then he swallowed hard and said, Ive been drinking today,
I said, God knows that, too. It doesnt matter. He accepts you just the way
He blinked and then his eyes filled with tears. I want Him, he rasped.
I want to belong to Him. I want this to be settled. Will He really take
I wanted to be as affirming as I could. He accepts you now and forever,
Frank. That will never change.
He sighed. Okay. I guess I can do it now. The three of us knelt in the
living room and prayed.
Over the years Frank became one of the most accepting and loving people in
our church. He became an on mission Christian. What God had done for him, he
passed on to others.
I always wondered after that, though, what might have happened had I not
heeded that nudging in my soul. Would the moment have passed? Would Frank have
forgotten his conviction? Or would God have simply moved someone else to
respond, allowing me to miss out on the blessing of seeing Him perform such a
remarkable work? Do we think that if we arent personally involved, God wont
I believe God works in many ways, but I also believe there are moments when
a heart is most ripe for reaping. He speaks to His people in those moments and
moves us to action, action we might consider weird or unwarranted. But action
just the same.
Often, I find myself praying these days, God, dont let me pass up the
opportunities youre bringing my way, because Im resisting the call youre
putting into my soul. Make me open to every call every moment.
Mark Littleton, of Gladstone, Missouri, is a writer, speaker and author of
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