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Today my heart is full.  It also feels, simultaneously, heavy and light.  I find that I am contemplating death again today.  Many of you have been aware and have journeyed along with me in prayer for the salvation of an individual I know through my work at Broadlawns Medical Center.  Yesterday afternoon he passed away.

Despite the cancer diagnosis he had received nearly 6 months ago, his death came by other means.  His death was sudden and humanly unexpected.  My heart is full of sorrow.  My heart is heavy with the reality of sin and suffering and death.  I lament the loss of relationship.  I wonder about my faithfulness in ministering to this soul.

Unlike the contemplation of death that has taken place over the last year as I have walked with my wife through the journey of losing her younger sister to cancer, I find I am unable to rejoice in the same things or in the same way.  My sister-in-law had a firm faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior.  Although the sorrow over suffering and death and loss of relationship was heightened in her case, the rejoicing over her salvation and eternal life was also heightened and is nearly indescribable.

Now, to be sure, I did not say I am not currently rejoicing, nor that I am not greatly rejoicing, but only that my rejoicing is different.  I rejoice in the humble privilege that God gave me to invest in this man’s life.  I rejoice how God always provided what I needed in doing so.  I rejoice at the amazing power of God to awaken spiritual matters in an individual that by all human perspective was a “lost cause”.  I rejoice that despite the extreme “lived depravity”, that this man was no different than you or I.  He was equally created in the image of God, equally lost, equally in need of the same Savior.  He had thoughts, desires, emotions and relationships that mattered.  By the grace of God through the work of the Holy Spirit, he was equally able to engage over the truth of the Gospel.

I watched as God took a man who was a hater and scoffer of God, to a man who truly accepted the reality of God’s existence and began to understand the reality that God is who he says he is.  I watched as the repeated presentation of the Gospel came to be intellectually understood.  I walked with a man who was hurting and confused and seeking and resisting and vulnerable.  I heard a man verbally claim to trust Christ has his Savior.  I struggled to see evidence of this claim.

My heart is light because of the goodness and faithfulness of God to his Word, his Works and his Character.  I cannot say with confidence that I know the eternal destination of this man one way or the other.  I can say with utmost confidence that God never failed nor forsook.  Through 16 years of faithful witness, prayer and enduring of persecution, God did not waste the smallest iota of what was done in obedience to him.  And I know that he will not waste anything in the days to come either.  My heart is light because the outcome of such things does not, in the end, rest on me.

I do not know what God is doing in all of this; what he did for this man, what he is doing in me, what he is doing in those who have partnered with me, what he will do in you as your read this, what he will do with those that I will still have opportunity to engage with in connection to this man.  But I do know that he IS doing something; and it is for his glory, and it is for my good.

Will you keep praying for me?  Will you rejoice with me?  Will you sorrow with me?  Will you humbly, faithfully obey the Lord in caring for souls by means of the Gospel?  Will you do so with me?

I need you, my brothers and sisters.