I grew up in a Baptist church, attending at minimum 3 times a week - Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. On top of that, I went to a Christian school, where we had regular Bible classes and weekly Chapel. Thankfully, I knew from a very young age what “salvation” meant, the importance of prayer, and God’s love and promises.
At the age 4, I asked Jesus to save me, forgive me for my sins, and help me live a life pleasing to Him. After that, I recall very diligently saying my prayers every single night in bed after my dad tucked me in. I did it without being told or reminded. It just became a part of my life. As a child, there were only a few things in my world that made the list of important requests to pray for. I prayed for my dad to quit smoking (which he has since), and for all my family members to get saved if they’re not already, then I listed them by name. Even at that age from grade school and up, the thought of someone I loved passing away without knowing Jesus, terrified me to my very core and completely broke my heart. So if I prayed for nothing else that day, I would at least pray for that.
When I was 16, I sat with my family in the wooden pew of our church for the Sunday evening service. The paper thin walls of the old building suddenly echoed with a loud telephone ring from the front office in the next room. It was a common enough disruption and one I thought nothing of. The pastor’s daughter slipped out to answer the call, and when she came back into the sanctuary, she didn’t sit back in her regular pew. Instead, she walked all the way around to where my family was and tapped my dad on the shoulder, “Rick, your father’s had a heart attack.” My entire body jolted with fear and disbelief. Nothing like this has ever happened to anyone in my family. We’ve all been in excellent health, not so much as a sprained ankle to report for years. We immediately gathered our things and quietly slipped out the back door.
We knew absolutely no other details about my grandpa’s circumstances. This was before the days of cell phones. We drove in silence to the hospital, tense and worried. I think it must have been from the moment I heard the word, “heart attack,” that I began frantically praying. “Dear God, please let grandpa get saved. Dear God, please let grandpa get saved. Dear God, please let grandpa get saved.” I prayed it over and over in my mind until the words ran together and no longer sounded English. But I didn’t stop and that’s all I said. I knew that God knew how much I meant it, how sincere I was, how desperate I was, and He had heard this prayer many times before. This time though, there was a deadline.
The next few days are a blur in my memory. My grandpa went in and out of the hospital and encountered other health problems, more or less spiraling down hill. But every spare second I had, I prayed that prayer for the man who nicknamed me Squeak, lived upstairs from me for 4 years, babysat my sister and I almost daily, and sat quietly and patiently in his rocking chair enjoying the company of his family who he worked and sacrificed for his entire life.
One day, we went to the hospital. My grandma met us at the elevator, her arms were open and her face was lit with utter happiness. What could be happening? Has he recovered? Can he come home? She hugged us all in a frenzy and announced with joyful tears on her face, “You’ll never believe it.” She paused to catch her breath from the excitement, “Your grandpa’s been saved!” I must have choked with relief and gratefulness, beaming from ear to ear. To my unceasing amazement of God’s grace, she continued, “And so have I!”
After that day, I swore that I would never doubt God and that I would always remember what I felt in that moment. A burden of worry had been lifted from my heart. My worst fears had been calmed. God answers prayer, He cares about me, about my family, He loves us, and He wants us to be with Him. My grandpa, Charles Daugherty, passed away not long after that day. I still think of him often and am thankful for the 16 years I knew him. I’m even more thankful that some day I will see him again and he will be reunited with his loving wife. Until then, I know he is enjoying Heaven with his Savior.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not parish, but have everlasting life.
For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.