Adrian and I were thrilled to celebrate my Uncle Les’ baptism with him yesterday. He has an amazing testimony of God’s faithfulness and his family’s prayerful perseverence.
Les is the oldest of a family of six. His dad began following Jesus in his middle age (along with his wife) after going blind through diabetes. His dad fell completely in love with the Lord; he said he’d found the meaning to life. He constantly talked about Jesus to everyone and anyone who would listen. One by one, Les’ brothers and sisters and their families began to follow Jesus too. Les was kind of interested but life was going well and he didn’t see his need of ‘religion’. But Les’ mum and dad and his siblings never gave up praying that he would one day experience the joy and peace they knew.
A couple of years ago, when Les was 74, he was seriously ill in hospital. We didn’t expect him to live, and we all increased our praying for him, longing that he would experience God in a very real way. One night, Les had what he can only describe as a ‘near death’ experience. He was in a dark tunnel and saw hundreds of dead bodies. It was lonely and frightening. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘It’s not his time yet’, and he came back. From then on he began to recover, but he didn’t forget the terror of being in that dark tunnel. Les knew he had to get right with God. He talked with his sister Janet about it and began attending church. The church minister did a Christianity Explored course with him and Les began to understand that Jesus is God’s Son who came to die and rise again so that Les could have a relationship with God. At long last Les was able to experience the joy and peace that his brothers and sisters knew.
How we rejoiced to see Les publicly declare his faith in God by being baptised. He now has no need to be afraid of dying because ‘there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus’ (Romans 8:1).
As I watched Les go under the water and come back up – with full eyes and a full heart – I couldn’t help but see in my mind’s eye the parapets of Heaven. Were his mum and dad, his sister Marion and my dad leaning over, jostling for position as they joyfully laughed and clapped over him following the Lord? As I imagined their beaming faces I suddenly saw two little red-headed figures in dungarees excitedly running to have a look too; surely Two and Three have also enjoyed Heaven’s party for Les!
Now Les can look forward to reuniting with his loved ones in Heaven one day, and of finally seeing the wonderful Lord Jesus who died for him.
Listen to I can only Imagine, a song about arriving in Heaven.