I’m sharing a testimony with you today that you can actually find in my first book, Climbing Out of the Box, Entitled there as “The Long Dark Hallway”.
A testimony to His profound amazing grace and to what extents he will take us to find one lost soul waiting for the truth…even to the end of their life.
The long dark hallway seemed to go on forever as we made our way to my Grandpa’s room at the end of the long corridor. The smells of old people and urine permeated the convalescent home where Grandpa Dick was being cared for in his last days on this earth. We were coming to say good-bye.
I have never been one to feel the call to the sometimes-forgotten generation of the aged, as the sights and sounds of these care facilities have always made me want to run away from the reality of it. I try to be spiritual about making visits, but truth be known, it terrifies me. Why, I don’t know. It is not like some poor soul in a wheelchair is going to jump up and grab me. I think the horror of watching some little old lady clutching a doll as if it is her baby, or some gentlemanly soul calling out for his long-ago love actually makes us all look at our own mortality.
As Greg and I made our way down that corridor holding hands, we both heard a distant voice crying out, “Help me, help me, won’t someone come help me?” over and over. We didn’t even look at each other; we just kept walking. We continued to hear the cry for help, but assumed a nurse would see to the gentleman. Lord knows, we didn’t want to search out the voice in some scary, dark corridor. So, unlike the spiritual man and woman that we are, we both acted like we didn’t hear it.
We visited Grandpa, and said our good-byes. I kissed him and said that when I got to Heaven, I would meet him just inside the eastern gate. Being in a light coma, he couldn’t respond, but there was a definite reaction from him, and I knew he was saying, “Yep, Dickie, “ (his special nickname for me since my childhood), “I will meet you there, and I’ll have Grandma with me.” Having said our tearful good byes, we started back down that seemingly endless dark corridor. I knew Grandpa was in Jesus’ loving arms, so I was just in a hurry to escape that place of unpleasantness.
Not far down the hall, we heard the voice again. “Won’t someone out there please help me?” At first, we sped up to escape our discomfort. But then the Holy Spirit spoke to us both at the same time. We stopped abruptly, turned to look at each other, and knew we were meant to search out the voice. Drawing courage from one another, we cautiously started peering into rooms until we found the source of the cries for help.
There, lying in a bed, was a perfectly sane-looking elderly man, whom I thought resembled Charlton Heston. (I am a romantic at heart.) When we walked into his room to see what he was crying out for, he saw us and said, “Finally, someone has heard me! I am freezing to death. Please give me another blanket.” (For some reason we never once saw a nurse while we were there). I promptly grabbed a blanket off the nearby shelf and tucked it securely around him. He thanked us profusely.
Greg, having an evangelist’s heart, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak to the man about his soul. He approached the side of his bed and said, “Sir, I perceive you to be an intelligent man and one who makes wise decisions.” This got the old man’s attention. He said, “Well, son, I try to do my best.” Greg asked, “Have you considered where you will go when your time on this earth is through?” The man said, “No, haven’t given it much thought, son.” “Are you interested in hearing how you can go to Heaven when you die?” Greg asked. “Well, yes, I believe I would like to hear how to do that, now that you are here,” the man said. Greg proceeded to share the good news of the gospel with him, showing him that the way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. He then asked the man if he would like to accept Jesus as his Savior. The man answered, “Yes, son, I believe I am ready to do that.” I watched in absolute wonder as Greg introduced this man to the Lord Jesus. I realized at that moment that the cry for help was not really for a blanket; it was the cry of this lost soul before he left this world for the next.
At the conclusion of their prayer together, a woman entered the room with a puzzled look on her face. Realizing that she was wondering who these strangers were with her loved one, I was quick to introduce ourselves and explain what had happened from the moment we had heard his cries out in the corridor. I told her that we were called into the room, and that Greg had just led her family member to Christ. She started crying and said she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “You are not going to believe this, but this man’s son is a Pastor in Ireland. He has a church body that meets in a castle. He and his congregation have been praying every day for his Dad to meet Christ before he is taken into eternity. They are praying right now!”
We were truly amazed at God’s ways. Who knew that this was the plan all along, and the reason why we were to go to that convalescent home on that particular day? We thought it was to say good-bye to Grandpa; but God had greater plans of bringing another family member into the fold at the persistent prayers of a beloved son. I don’t even know the elderly man’s name, but I do know I will see him in Heaven. I imagined him meeting Grandpa on the way there and them having a laugh together.
This reminds me of a quote by the author Andrew Farley, from his book, The Naked Gospel, to wind up my testimony of God’s miraculous grace and how he uses us here on earth.
“Many Christians struggle to articulate what the resurrection means to them personally. I’ve asked groups of Christians what the resurrection means, and I often don’t get a response beyond that it demonstrated God’s power over death.
Is that all there is? Paul stated that if there was no resurrection, then the whole gospel message is meaningless and we are to be pitied for our beliefs (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). There has to be more to the resurrection than God showing off His power. After all, God has already shown off through creation, the flood, fulfilled prophecies, miracles, and even the resurrection of Lazarus.
There is more to the resurrection. The life we possess within us is not merely Jesus a Man who lived, taught, and died after thirty-three years on Earth. Sure, that’s part of his track record. But the life housed within us is the risen Christ, who now sits right beside God.
Hence, we’re not being asked to merely imitate recorded actions of Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, we’re invited to allow Jesus Christ to simply do what He has always done– be Himself. The resurrected Christ wants to do this through our unique personalities in every moment of every day.
Imagine billions of unique canvases throughout history- different sizes, shapes, and textures. The Master Painter wants to paint expressions of His resurrection life on you.
You might say, “Who am I to display God’s life?” But God wants to make his mark on your life with beautiful resurrection brushstrokes that only He can fashion together to form a masterpiece.
Although God has painted His heart out countless times throughout history, He jealously desires to do it all over again on your canvas.
And it’s quality art every time.”