I Wish I’d Preached To Him Again
May 21, 2016
Day before yesterday (Thursday) I stopped at an animal feed and tack store I used to go to back in the 90s –back before we moved away, along with our horses, to the country for 14 years. Since we moved back over two years ago, I’ve driven by there quite a few times, but, being we no longer have horses, I’d not stopped there. However, over the last few months, the store seemed to “jump out at me” when I’d pass on that freeway, and I felt burdened for the owner (I’ll call him Ron for privacy reasons) who I used to repeatedly witness to. I wondered if I should stop and try to witness to him again, but then I felt that he had likely died, was in a nursing home, or just wasn’t working anymore. I mean, I remembered that he’d said he was 71 years old the last time I’d stopped by there, and that was about nine years ago. Besides, why try to witness to him again since the last few times I’d tried, he had seemed to be more and more vehement against the Truth to the point that he would not even entertain the idea that God exists. In fact, when I’d reminded him that he’d told me years before that he’d been planning, at one time in the early part of his life, to be a preacher, he acted as if his notion had been one of imbecility.
Well, so, two days ago, being that I’d not found an item at Home Depot that I wanted, I decided to try this feed store. I went in and saw a man who had worked there back in the 90s, so I right away asked how he was, how his dad was (fine, was the answer), and then about Ron. The answer shocked me: “He passed away two months ago.” I couldn’t believe it. Just two months ago? If I’d stopped by earlier this year, I could’ve witnessed to him! He may have had a chance to repent. Did he repent? Maybe. So I asked, “Did he ever turn to God? I’m the one who used to always preach at him.”
The man shook his head and said that no, he didn’t think so. I was crushed. I had prayed for Ron many, many times for years and years. I’d witnessed to him often. I’d tried to reason with him.
When I was leaving, I talked to another worker who was driving the feedbag lift. He told me some of the details and also about Ron’s wife of 62 years (who I’d also spoken to about God sometimes). “She’s upstairs. Go up and talk with her.” So I did and I learned more –that Ron had actually had a stroke on Jan. 18th at work –at the feed store– but hadn’t died until early April. I also learned that he did not repent in the least. The other details I won’t repeat because they weren’t pretty and it all was in stark contrast to the several godly people I’ve watched deteriorate and die over the last few years.
I felt sick, devastated, and wanted to cry when I left the feed store and the next morning I did cry hard, thinking again about how a soul, whom I felt had been (partly) my assignment, was in Hell. I also thought about how I’d read Ezek. 33:1-20 early Thursday morning about our responsibility to warn others, despite their response, so that their blood would not be on our head.
I’m not saying I felt overwhelmed with guilt; just mostly extreme sadness. For truly I had tried hard when I used to shop there, and I do believe there is a time to “shake the dust off…” (Luke 9:5) Even my husband, when I told him Thursday evening about Ron’s death and that I wished I’d witnessed to him one last time, immediately said, “He wouldn’t have listened.” Maybe it was the Holy Spirit saying this to me through him to comfort me. Because it’s exactly what I heard in my spirit when I drove away from the feed store deeply distressed that I’d not visited sooner. I don’t know. But just in case… Just in case, if I had stopped by even after his stroke, I think I would’ve tried to visit him at the hospital and witness to him again. I know that the Lord, because of His tender-loving-mercy, wanted that sinful man redeemed back! Was he like the prodigal son, but one who never returned? It is heart-breaking to think of Ron in Hell now. How enormous his regret must be!
Well, the next day, (yesterday) I went witnessing at the bus and train stops, and as usual, I had many excellent conversations. But one, the last one, and which lasted two hours, was an extra-special comfort and privilege for me from the Lord. The guy was so hungry for the Word of God and every time he asked a question, the verses just spilled out of my mouth so fast I really couldn’t even say all the ones that were coming to my mind to give him as answers. This man (whom I’ll call Dwight) was so excited the whole time and so eager and so repentant. Halfway through, he told me some of his story and pointing to the hospital band on his wrist, he told me that he has lung cancer but wants badly to serve the Lord in the remaining time he has left. It was my sign, “Christ’s cross doesn’t cover a continuation in sin. (Heb. 10:26-31)” that he said struck him when he saw it and made him suddenly desperate to be right with the Lord.
What a privilege and comfort the Lord was giving me through Dwight, for as we conversed, I heard the Lord’s soft voice reminding me that although my efforts hadn’t saved Ron from Hell, my efforts were turning this man, Dwight, from his careless path toward Hell. How compassionate God is! Even now, I get tears.
Dwight was so appreciative of my efforts. He kept thanking me for my time and I kept telling him that it was an honor to discuss God’s Word with someone so receptive. He said that he’d been on his way to talk with someone at the hospital about his soul as it regarded his likely imminent death, but that this conversation had been just what he needed. For though he said he’d always had a love for God and His Word, he had been living sinfully, believing that he was safe to sin. How thankful he said he was that the Lord had allowed him to see the Truth before it was too late!
And I’m thankful too. Very thankful.
What if I’d not gone witnessing yesterday? What a huge blessing I would have missed. And what would Dwight have missed? Heaven? Only the Lord knows.
But I have to also ask, what if I would have gone to the feed store over the last nine years? Could I have persuaded Ron to turn from his sins and hand his life over to Christ?
“When I [God] say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for [in / because of] his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for [in / because of] his sin, but you will have saved yourself.” (Ezek. 33:8,9)
This post isn’t about if I’ve saved myself by having witnessed enough. It’s about not forgetting to do all that can be done to save others from Hell.