The Story of a Skeptic, no more
April 17, 2014 | Published in Testimonies
I want to tell you the story of a former skeptic. This skeptic some of you know as Vernon. Vernon was once a regular attender at our church, but now he is a worshiper of His Lord in heaven. But all of this was far from the case earlier in his life.
Vernon grew up in a difficult home, and was a skeptic when it came to the things of God. A better word might be “hostile” to spiritual things. He was the kind of guy who didn’t even like when people brought up God, or religion, or church. Maggie, his wife had a different upbringing and much different feelings when it came to God and her relationship with Him. Maggie, in her own words, felt “drawn” to our church as she passed by it almost every day. She told Vern that she was done waiting for him, and that she was going to church with or without him. “You go ahead and go,” he said, “and tell me what it is like.” And so she did. The moment she walked in the door she felt “at home,” as she puts it. Some of the women in our church were so welcoming and loving that she felt that this was exactly the place she needed to be. Her report concerning her church visit when she came home was apparently enough to convince her skeptic husband to join her. And he did. The same love showed to Maggie by our people was shown to him, and he quickly became a regular in our services.
There was rarely a Sunday when Vernon wasn’t here in our church. I so enjoyed my brief interactions with him and he seemed to be growing very warm to spiritual things. When I baptized his wife Maggie, she told me, “I’m still working on Vern.” She was so excited about how far he had already come, but still was unsure of his relationship with God.
Then came the news. Vernon had cancer. As I walked in the somber room of this family who had just received the terrible news, Vernon was in surprisingly good spirits, considering the circumstances. He made two statements that I thought I would never hear him make. One was, “Well I just need to trust in God through this.” And, later in the conversation, “I hope I can get back to church soon because my soul needs to be saved!” After sharing the gospel plainly with him, once again, I walked out of that hospital room not 100% confident that Vernon was saved, as he put it, but confident that God was indeed doing a work.
The cancer got worse, quickly. Vernon was fading fast. And I will never forget the conversation I had with him. It was his last “good day” where he was coherent enough to carry on a good conversation. Now was no time to beat around the bush, and I asked him some direct questions. I said “Vernon, I heard the news. None of us know when we are going to go.” He responded, “I know, I could go at any moment.” I let him know that Jesus took his sin and guilt on the cross and rose again to give him new life. I told him that he must simply put his full weight of trust in him to save him from sin. Then I asked, “Vernon, have you received him as your Savior?” He responded with confidence “Yes I have. Yes I have.” I was overjoyed to hear this, and I affirmed that is all that is necessary. Because he had trusted in Jesus he had been granted forgiveness of sins and new life. Joy washed over him and he lifted his hand in the air like someone who had just won a basket ball game.
He said, over and over again, “Jesus is my Savior. Jesus is my Savior.”
I read him some scripture reminding him of the promises of God he could now cling on to. And he said, “I don’t know how I can thank Jesus for all that He has done for me.” Before I left, I told him he had to get better because Maggie wanted to see him out of this hospital room. He echoed my sentiment, and said, “I certainly want to get out of this hospital room so God can use my life; I don’t want Him to save me for nothing!”
I told Him I will make sure God used His life, and his story, even if he never got out of the hospital room.
Vernon was a skeptic. A loving and faithful father and husband, but one who for most of his life was very far from his Lord.
Not any more. Not any more.
– Pastor Brian