Read: Esther 6-7; Luke 19:10
For the majority of my life, July 4th not only meant a celebration concerning our country, it was extra special because it was my father's birthday. If he were alive now, he would be 102 years old and still, I'm certain, be requesting chocolate cake for his big day. I would love to say that I am certain dad will be celebrating in heaven. That possibility does exist, but I simply don't know where he is now. That fact quite honestly, brought me to tears a few days ago; so, may I stop this train of thought just for a moment to ask that if anyone has these simple thoughts and hasn't received Jesus' gift of salvation, please don't wait. Those who love you will rejoice now when they hear that you have chosen to be born again, John 3:3, and the sweetness of coming to know the Lord will begin to fill your life with great joy. Then, your loved ones will know you are with Jesus if you die before they do. Yes, they might cry because they miss you, but they will have the certainty that you are with Jesus, just as He promised the man who trusted in Him as he was dying on the cross, Luke 23:39-43.
Now, let's return to my father and how God brought joy to me After my tears had dried.
It is all about Jesus. The One Who is the seeking Savior, Luke 19:10. The One Who works in unfathomable ways and at unimaginable times as He calls out to the lost. He is even at work when we least expect it. For example, the middle of a long sleepless night. That's where God was one night. Seeking my father. Longing to bring redemption to Him. That's why I am excited to talk about this because it reminded me of a piece of Esther's story that involves another sleepless night. In both cases, God was unfolding a plan that put His incredible attention to detail, love and sovereignty on display. The events happened in such an every-day way that it is only when we look back that we are able to see all that He was doing.
First, let's briefly glimpse God's work It involves the king with the difficult name. Ahasuerus, who like my father also had a night when he could not sleep. A bit of a review in case it has been a little while since we dusted off those particular pages in the Bible. Briefly, the Jews were in great danger because of a wicked plot against them. Unknown to the king, his queen was a Jewess, and she had the mission of crying out to the king for mercy on behalf of her people. Esther the queen was waiting for just the right moment to intercede for her people, and as she waited, the king endured one of those restless nights. A good time to fall asleep by being read the records of his kingdom. That should work better than warm milk. However, through God's providence the king heard the right thing at just the right time that eventually brought about the redemption of God's people and the deaths of the wicked ones who wanted to see them annihilated, Esther 6-7. God was at work behind the scene. He was standing guard over His people, but no announcement of all He was doing was seem.
The same thing happened to my father. There was a night when he couldn't sleep. Not unusual for him, but what I learned the next morning was that God was at work while dad wasn't sleeping. That night, years ago, my father was changing the channels on the TV in his small room. He stopped on Billy Graham's message. An older one he knew because Mr. Graham looked younger than he was at the time. God's sweet timing, and because of differing care needs, dad had the room to himself and therefore wasn't keeping my stepmother up. He was able to watch the evangelist as long as he wanted.
The next morning, we talked about Mr. Graham's message. The sweet message of the Gospel that he faithfully proclaimed for decades. As I recall, dad had some questions, and we talked until we were interrupted.
I know that King Ahasuerus' inability to sleep was instrumental in the saving of the Jews from an evil plot. Wondrous! Yet, isn't it as wondrous that the Creator God worked in an elderly man's life so he would again hear that God loved Him. As I type this, I can hear Billy Graham's voice speaking those words. God put that chance to hear the gospel together for my father as surely as He snatched His people from Haman's wickedness.
Someone might ask if it were for nought if dad didn't act on what he heard. To that I say respectfully but with certainty that the answer is no. Why? Because we had been praying for my father, and the conversation I had with him was another reminder that God answered those prayers. God's reaching out in love to my father was not only a sweet gift held out to him but a sweet gift given to those of us who loved and prayed for him.
This week, as I think about my father's birthday, I will remember the times that God worked quietly in Dad's life so that he could, once again, hear about His personal love.
Thank You Jesus for reaching out "while Dad wasn't sleeping." Thank You that You are the Savior Who seeks the lost, Luke 19:10.