2nd Update on my Dad
As some of you know, my grandmother has fallen ill and so this past Friday, my father and I decided to drive to New Jersey to see her. We left at 4:10am. Within six minutes, my father began listening to sermons. We listened to Ligonier Ministries' 2009 National Conference, "The Holiness of God" for ten hours straight. Somewhere around Raleigh NC or so, my dad turned off the sermons and asked me about being baptized! I asked him why he wanted to be baptized and he wasn't really able to describe why. He said, "Something must be happening to me, because how else can I listen to this stuff for ten hours?" I asked my father if there was a moment he could remember a change taking place, but he couldn't. He just said that he was changing more and more each day. He said he was fascinated by the Bible and that many of the TV shows that he normally watches are no longer interesting to him. In fact, they are a "turn off." He asked me, "Am I a Christian?" I said I didn't know. Maybe he was not a Christian yet, but growing closer and closer to that point. Then again, maybe he was already a Christian, and now growing in sanctification and understanding. I asked him to try to diagnose for himself, but he seemed frustrated because he simply didn't know. So I told him to hold off on the baptism for now. He continued to ask me spiritual questions and we talked until Richmond, VA or so. Then we listened to the conference messages again, all the way to New Jersey. That's approximately 16 hours of R.C. Sproul and friends in a single day!
The next day (Saturday) my brother drove over from Long Island, and that night, my father started telling my brother that the Bible is the truth, that all other religions are wrong, and anything that contradicts the Bible is a lie. My brother couldn't care less, of course, and I could tell he was extremely uncomfortable, but you should have seen how my dad's whole face lit up talking about God. (I know it's not the most sophisticated example, but in my book, this counts as evangelism!) On Sunday morning, my father tried to give some of the R.C. Sproul CDs to my brother, but my brother refused them. When we were alone in the car, my dad said to me, "Ah, he's just not ready for it yet. We need to work on him." (We? Did he say we?)
Monday we made the trip back to Orlando. Once again, the sermons went on at 4 am and we listened the entire ride home, stopping only for gas and spiritual conversations. My father told me that over the weekend he had also shared with my Uncle Tony that he was reading the Bible. (Evangelism again!) My father said that you just have to talk to people - even if it's just a brief word, because you never know if "one little thing" might get through. Two weeks ago, I told my dad there was no such thing as purgatory or limbo, it "shook his whole foundation." Once he started investigating that, everything else seemed to crumble. So my father, bless his first efforts, decided to tell my Uncle Tony that there is no purgatory or limbo. Uncle Tony of course said nothing, but my father was compelled and not ashamed to tell him these things. He said, "I'm sure he thought I was nuts!" I encouraged my father by telling him that the Word of God is foolishness to those who are perishing and that Jesus said if the world hates us, it hated Jesus first.
It really seemed as though the Holy Spirit had regenerated my father, but I just wasn't absolutely certain. So I asked him if he died right now, would he go to heaven? He stumbled on this a bit. He was not sure if God would forgive him for certain things he's done. I continued to work through some of the misconceptions he had and then I asked him, "Would you say you've been born again?" My dad said, "Well, I would say I am a Christian. But I still don't really understand what being born again means." I gave my best explanation and he said, "After hearing you describe it that way, I would say yes, I am born again." I then asked my father about coming to church. He is still a bit uncomfortable about the idea, but said that he was much more open to the possibility than he was a year ago. As I write this, I am embracing my standard perceptions of what a "born again" experience is, and tempted to doubt what my father has told me, but his excitement for the Word and his desire to tell everyone he knows about these new found truths cannot be explained away. I have no choice but to praise God for the incredible changes I am seeing, even if my dad doesn't fully understand what has happened to him.
There was so much that happened this weekend, so many more details that I haven't shared, but I wanted to try to capture the most noteworthy ones in this email and thank you all for praying for my dad. I want to especially thank those of you who were lifting up my family this weekend and for your compassionate expressions of sympathy for my grandmother's condition. I am especially grateful for the text messages on Friday morning and the encouragement you have given me regarding that situation. Please continue to keep her in prayer as my cousin Joe has been witnessing to her and trying to assess her spiritual condition (she is Roman Catholic). We thank God that Grandma is still with us at 90 years old and we pray that He will allow us to enjoy more time with her but our greatest desire is to that she genuinely reconciles herself to God.
Grateful for you,
Jen writes regularly at ReformedSHEology. Please stop by and check out her blog.