Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Better than Bacardi

An amazing thing happened today. I returned to the house mid-afternoon and was greeted by my mom with a glorious sentence: "Papaw got saved!" Mom proceeded in telling me of how my grandfather walked from darkness and into light today, on his 80th birthday, of all days.

My grandfather has always been a difficult man, hardened by years of bitterness and anger swallowed up in a fountain of liquor. If there was ever a man that no one would expect could or would become a Christian, it was my grandfather. I cannot recall how many people shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. He knew that he was a sinner who had offended a holy God and had no hope of eternal life since he was apart from Christ. He knew he needed to turn from his sins and turn to follow Jesus, but he was unwilling to repent and believe. The phrases "I'm not ready," and "not now" were familiar to his lips and to the ears of those of us who had prayed for him, sharing truth with him over the years.

He has not been doing well, physically, and has been getting weaker and weaker over the weeks. God has been gracious to my grandfather in making him miserable. My uncle Steve could tell that my grandfather has been getting closer and closer to death, and he called a preacher-friend of his to talk to Papaw. This preacher, Scott Shepherd, formed a friendship with Papaw when he pastored a Baptist church in the area. Scott shared the gospel once again with Papaw. My grandfather's response was that he would become a Christian "next time." This evangelist reminded him of the truth of 2 Corinthians 6:2, which says that "Now is the day of salvation." He said, "Okay. I'll do it today." Scott asked if he would like for him to lead him in prayer, to which Papaw responded that he would like to pray in his own words. He simply bowed his head, telling God that he's sinned, asking God to forgive him and save his soul.

While all this was going on, I was loafing around Dalton, Georgia, looking for my grandfather's old house, where my mom and her siblings were raised. I was on the phone with my mom asking her how to get there, and we were all the while unaware that Papaw was passing from death into life. Looking back, it was a providential blessing that I kept Mom tied up on the phone while I was hunting for the house, prohibiting her from calling Papaw while the preacher was there sharing the gospel. After I hung up with Mom, she called Papaw. He told told her the words our family has longed to hear for a long time, "Well...I think I just got saved."

I'm still amazed by all of this! God has given my grandfather something better than Bacardi to drink now! He is drinking living water now! A drink that will not leave him bitter, disappointed, or longing for more. Papaw told the preacher today that he thought he was about to have a nervous breakdown. He could barely sleep anymore. I thank God for letting His hand weigh so heavily on Papaw, bringing him to his knees. After being reconciled to God, Papaw told the preacher he immediately felt better.

Please pray for Papaw as he continues to suffer from numerous diseases that have ravaged his body for years. We do not anticipate him living much longer, and now that he has come to know Christ, the thought of his passing is no longer an unpleasant one.

Thanks also to all of you who have prayed for my grandfather over the years! It is still surreal to think that he is now a follower of Jesus Christ, and it is no doubt a result of decades of prayers being lifted up for him.

May this post encourage you to pray and witness to those you know who have not submitted to Christ's yoke. God saved my (formerly) alcoholic, octogenerian grandfather who had always refused the gospel up until today, the day of his 80th birthday. God's grace is amazing! Thankfully, Papaw now knows what Living Water is, and the Living Water, Jesus Christ, is by far better than Bacardi.