Some of you have heard me talk about my 92 year old uncle who lives in Mandeville, LA. He is very, very wealthy, ... as true 'self-made' man. He lives alone in a small, older, pretty run-down apartment there, as his wife (my aunt) died about 30 years ago.
I try to call him every few weeks to check on him and gave him a call tonight. You have to understand that for all these years, he has wanted NOTHING to do with God or religion. He is a 31st degree Mason with all the classic 'hardness' traits that come with the terrain. But interestingly enough, he has begun to open some to me and my family. Last time we visited him, we asked out of the blue if we could pray for him. He obliged. We all gathered around him and layed hands on him and blessed him. When we were done, tears edged his eyes and he thanked us.
I am going someplace with this by the way......:)
I had not talked to Uncle Bill in about a month, so decided to call him tonight, as he had called twice in the last few days and I missed him. Well, I wish I could say the call was altogether pleasant, but pretty much for 20 minutes I just listened as he complained about all his neigbors, about all those who had borrowed $ and never paid him back, etc...etc....(I am sure you have some relative in your life like that..!).
Now, as the conversation winded down, this guy who really, honestly is one of the 'hardest' men I have known, who has very little positive to say about anything, who is still hard toward God, paused for a moment, then said, " Thank you for being a good listener. " I said a few words in response, then spontaneously said, "Good night, Uncle Bill.....I love you." To which he replied, "I love you too.."
These words have never been said between us, as he is not that kind of person. Here are my thoughts, though, as I believe this is HUGE for all of us......
Every person wants to feel loved and to love in return. As Christians, I think we hold back from loved ones who are hard to God. To just love someone and tell them is often so hard. We feel we need to somehow 'witness' to them, to preach to them, and on and on. I have done that with my Uncle Bill in years past. Got nowhere, except him telling me to please NOT pray for him (really...about 10 years ago...). But I am learning that the greatest witness is to just love people, period, with no expectation of change, no expectation of them getting saved, no expectations of anything. Just UNCONDITIONAL love.
Regardless of what he said, I have prayed for my Uncle Bill for many, many years now. I am believing that somehow he will give his heart to Jesus. He cant see but he can hear, so I sent him the Bible on CD a few months ago (with him protesting, I might add...!). I told him that it was my gift to him and that though I wished he would give it a listen, if he didnt, he could 'regift' it to someone else.
But his response doesnt matter anymore.
Lift up a prayer for him if you get the chance. Bill Van Horn..... I am believing to see him in heaven, somehow, someway.....
Grace to you....PB