The other night I just had to get out of the house. I’ve been in front of the computer all day. So, I walked to get some exercise. As I was walking through my neighborhood, I started praying for people I knew.
But my heart was particularly drawn toward Ernie, a elderly friend who had just lost his wife two days before, so I started walking toward his house. Once there, I felt God nudging me: “Go ahead and knock.” I did, even though I was dressed in sweats.
I was surprised to see Ernie’s son, Doug, open the door. I’m so glad to see you, Kent,” he said, and invited me in. He whispered, “Dad is so lonely and scared, he called me over to be with him.” Doug called his dad down and the three of us talked for about an hour.
Ernie told me that the loss of his wife was overwhelming. “I thought I was a strong person, but I’ve come to realize I am a very weak. The hurt is so great. How grateful I am for my kids and my dog. How hard it is to be alone.” He added that, because of his intense care giving for his wife over the past few years, he had drifted away from God.
I said, “The weakness and emptiness in your heart is because the love for your wife for the last 60 years was so strong. If your love wasn’t so deep, the pain wouldn’t be so great. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t hurt so much.”
The first thing I wanted to do was encourage him, to love him, to gently ease him away from feeling guilty about feeling weak. His feelings were healthy feelings. Then the second issue I wanted to address was his distance from God.
I’ve known Ernie for many years, and like many men, he has a strong independent streak. “Ernie,” I said, “Don’t try to go through this alone. You need God now more than ever. God is the only one who can comfort your heart and help you get through each day, one day at a time, one hour at a time. ” He was listening. He was open to God now.
I shared with him 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” I said, “Having friends and family around is wonderful, but God is the only one who can comfort your heart and see you through this.” Then I prayed for him, and after a long hug from him, I went on my way.
God’s leading us is often a mystery. I needed to exercise, so I took a walk. As I walked, I began to pray. As I prayed, I began thinking more about Ernie. I felt nudged to knock on the door even though I was in my sweats and hadn’t been invited. Yet that meeting was so blessed by God and meaningful to Ernie and his son.
How do you know if God is prompting you? Often you don’t know until afterwards, when you see what God did in the lives of the people involved. But first, you have to be willing to take a chance, a chance on God.