Thursday, August 19, 2010
Back in 1990, with no faith to speak of, coming out of divorce and living on my own in a one room flat I started working for Maidstone Borough Council. At the time I was very low, very lonely, somewhat confused and on anti-depressants (this was 4 years before my conversion and a few months before I met Tracey.)
One of my colleagues was 'Big' Roy, an affable, straight talking 57 year old man. He was responsible for Health Promotion and I was responsible for Environmental Promotion and economies of scale dictated that we often promoted our two subjects together. When I got saved it became evident that Roy had no time for religion – you can imagine we had some interesting debates!
In spite of this, I had a great deal of admiration for Roy; he was loyal, happily married, hard working and generous. Last year Roy got cancer and for a while things looked touch and go but Roy being Roy made a good recovery although the adjective 'big' was less applicable than it once was J
A couple of weeks ago a mutual friend rang me and told me that Roy's cancer had returned and that he had also contracted septicaemia and had been moved to a local Hospice. Roy had specifically asked for me to visit him. At the end of our visit I politely acknowledged his dislike of religion but said that I would like to pray for him, with tears in his eyes Roy replied 'that's why I asked for you because I knew you would pray for me'. I held his hand and prayed for Roy, I thanked God for his friendship, for his influence on my life and for his courage and I asked God to relieve his pain and give him peace. I also asked God to have mercy on his soul and to receive him into his kingdom. Roy squeezed my hand tight and struggled to hold back the tears.
The bible says we are saved by faith; sometimes all we have to do is push through the crowd and touch the hem of his robe. Roy, the big passionate atheist, asked me to pray for him. He asked me to speak to what he had always claimed was a non-existent God on his behalf. In this simple act he both acknowledged God's existence and his power to save.
Yesterday morning I heard that Roy had passed away and I have no doubt that he is now safe in the arms of Jesus.
Of course if Roy had died in a car crash or of a heart attack maybe things might have been different – I don't know. All I do know is that when Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven and its citizens he usually spoke about prostitutes, publicans, tax collectors and sinners, he spoke about the 'halt and lame' about those that lived in the alleys and the lanes.
When it comes to heaven and hell things aren't always as cut and dried as they might seem.
Faith saves us and faith is nothing more than a humble recognition that we need God – it seems to me that in his simple hope that I would pray for him big Roy did just that... humbly recognised and verbally expressed his need for God and I believe that was enough to save him.