“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Luke 23:42 (NIV)
I recall a phone call some years ago from a man I had never met before. When I answered the phone a frail voice on the other end asked if I was Pastor Rumford. I said I was and he then went on to say that he wished a pastoral visit. He had called a local church and because he was not a member the minister there was too busy to see him.
I assured him that I would be happy to visit him. He expressed his gratitude and then said the most startling thing. What he said was, “I am dying and it is kinda hard to do. I would like you to come and say a prayer over me.”
Immediately I left my study and travelled to a poor section of Mississauga to make the visit. An old car was up on blocks in the driveway and when I approached the door I noticed the screen was falling out of the door frame. I rang the bell and went in.
The man who had called was in a hospital bed in the living room. No other furniture was in the room except a tiny table that held his many medications and a folding chair. I shook hands with him and sat down asking him to tell me his story.
He was not married and was in his thirties. His mother would be coming in a couple of days with an ambulance to take him home to her house 100 kilometres away. The doctors told him he would be gone within a couple of weeks.
He was upset about dying without any confidence about a relationship with God. He wanted to be sure he was accepted by the Lord when he left this world. This was what made dying “Kinda hard to do.”
Apparently he had been praying for forgiveness of his sins but had not received any assurance his prayers had been heard. I told him about Jesus being on the cross and the repentant thief calling on Him to be “remembered” when Jesus came in His kingdom. I explained that God put that story in the Bible to help us see that even when we are near the end we may call out in prayer to the Lord.
Then I turned his Bible over to 1 John and explained to him that this letter in the New Testament was written to people just like him who were seeking the forgiveness that Jesus came to provide. I prayed with him and promised to come back the next day.
When I returned the next morning his face was radiant. Reading God’s Word and continuing to pray had brought him the assurance that the Lord had truly brought him into the family of God. I met his mother that morning. She was a fine Christian woman. She thanked me for helping her son find peace with God. That was the last time I ever saw either of them.
Perhaps today you lack confidence that God has heard your prayer. You may have prayed for some time for His forgiveness and help. If you have a Bible look near the end of the Bible for a little book called 1 John. Read it over several times. It will encourage you to have confidence that God hears and answers our prayers. Then you will have the courage to face whatever life brings to you.