Wow! The last two hours have been such a whirlwind, I'm not sure where to start telling the story.
The last Friday night before our musical, Erin and I had the sense that we needed to go watch a kids dance recital that our friend Franci was directing and some other musical friends were involved with. We hung out for awhile afterwards and then had the chance to go hang out at Austins. At 11:00, some of the people we were hanging with went over to Wally's to drink some more beers and sing karaoke. Now, I like singing Karaoke (I sang my favorite that night, "She thinks my tractor's sexy") but I don't stay out that late usually. Erin was really tired, so I took her home but I felt (again) that I needed to be at the bar that night. So, I hung out there until 1 AM.
After being there about an hour, this guy with us named Jake, turned to me and said, "You know, when I heard you were a pastor, I prejudged you. But you're a pretty cool guy (you may not agree with that assessment). But know that I'm NOT religious, even though I was forced into Catholic school as a kid." Yeah, that was a powerful conversation.
A few days later, Jake told me his Grandma passed away, he was late to practice because of a funeral. Again, I sensed that I needed to tell him I was praying for him (and actually do it). That was spiritual conversation number two. Again, nothing earth-shattering.
Tonight at 5:00, Jake calls me, almost trembling on the line, "Donnie, we need to talk. I need to talk about God." So we set an appointment for 7:00.
While sitting at the Gardner Arby's, Jake unloads on me. He told me all kinds of stuff he's been going through, some things from his past he's not proud of and the dramatic ways God has been getting his attention. All along, I could tell he was waiting for me to judge him or react in a negative way. I never did (I had no reason to), so he kept opening up more and more.
Several times during the conversation, Jake said things like, "I need God in my life" or "things need to change" or (my favorite) "I need to turn around." I was determined to take it slow, to let Jake lead and not force him into a decision, but Jake was begging me to share with him what it means to turn to Christ and be made new. I even asked clarifying questions like, "you're telling me you want to turn from your own life and give your life to God?" Every question was answered in the affirmative.
So, I pulled out the pad of paper and pen I'd brought just in case I needed it and drew him the famous "bridge illustration." Explaining the ideas of sin, cross and repentance. We also read from 2 Corinthians chapter 5 a few times. When Jake was ready to give his life to Christ, we went out to my car and prayed together.
I try not to get too emotional during this, so people don't get carried away by the emotions which could cause them to give up when the emotions fade. So when Jake told me, "I feel different inside, something has happened" it wasn't because I manipulated him or anything. The Holy Spirit filled that guy!
I brought along some bible studies and a copy of the New Living Translation, which I gave to Jake. We plan to meet on Friday to start working through them. I brought them along because I had the feeling Jake was ready to make this decision and he needs to start growing right away.
After praying, I told Jake that I've prayed this prayer with a lot of people. Some people make the decision to follow Jesus and their lives are completely changed. Some people fizzle out after awhile. I told him the choice is his, but God wants to transform him into a new person. I also shared the part of 2 Corinthian 5 that tells us we're a new creation so we can help others become new, too. I challenged him to share his decision with some friends.
Please be praying for Jake. He gave me permission to put this on my blog and he wants your prayers. He's 3 hours into his walk with Christ; he needs your prayers.
God answers prayers!!!!