The Holy Spirit gives each of us opportunities to follow his promptings. But he doesn’t force us to take hold of them. I remember driving north to visit my elderly uncle shortly after my aunt had died. He lived alone in a small cabin, an idyllic but lonely place. I was concerned about him, knowing that his health was failing and that he had few friends and family close by.
I wondered about the state of his soul. As far as I knew, he had never shown the least bit of interest in any kind of religion, nor had his wife, my aunt. Shortly before she died, I’d had the chance to pray with her and talk to her about Christ‘s love. Now I wanted to talk to him, but I was having difficulty working up the nerve. We had never had a serious conversation about anything. Yet my conscience kept nagging me. What if he were to die without my ever having said anything about what Christ meant to me?
So I forced myself to drive up to see him. The closer I got the more uncomfortable I became. Soon after I arrived, I found myself awkwardly launched into a conversation about faith and about Jesus and about how different my life had become since I surrendered it to him. It was an inelegant presentation. I cringed inwardly, thinking how clumsy and inept my words must sound. But to my surprise, my uncle warmed to the conversation, saying he had recently come to know God’s love and that he could feel God’s presence with him.
Even the old black dog that lay by his side, he said, was a sign that God had been watching out for him. The dog had wandered in one day, sick and lost. My uncle had nursed him back to health, and now the old dog and the old man had become great companions.
I don’t remember everything we talked about, but by the time I left, I felt peaceful about my uncle’s well-being. I don’t know that my words made a big difference. But I believe my obedience mattered. At the very least, having that conversation with my uncle gave me peace, and it gave God another opportunity to show his love to my uncle.