“Daddy, look at my drawing of Noah’s Ark. See, all the animals are there, tigers, wolves, even bees!” Eagerly, ten-year-old Donnie held the paper for Harry to see.
“Not right now, Donnie, “ I’m busy. I’ll look at it later, okay?” Slowly, Donnie put the picture on the table, nodded, and went outside.
Harry sighed, he really loved Donnie, but since he started going to Sunday school and got what he called “saved,” all he talked about was religion. Harry wasn’t interested in religion. He had tried to be a good a father since Donnie’s mother died, but Donnie’s newfound religion came between them. Maybe he would outgrow it.
A crash resounded throughout the neighborhood. Harry rushed outside. With a gasp of horror, he saw Donnie’s bike crushed between a car and the cement retaining wall. Gentle hands held him back as others gathered up the broken body of his son.
Lost in grief and guilt, Harry repeatedly heard Donnie saying, “Please, Daddy, come to church with me.” or “Please, Daddy, let’s read my Bible story book together.” Harry always put him off.
One day Pastor Joshua Freitag, Donnie’s minister, said, “Harry, God never does anything without a purpose. Perhaps God was sending you a message through Donnie’s death.”
“A message? And the only way this God you talk about could send it was by killing my son? If that’s the only way he could deliver it, I don’t want to hear it.”
“Perhaps,” said Reverend Freitag gently, “that’s the only way He could get you to listen.”
“I won’t hear it!” Harry shouted, “Please, just leave me alone.” As he left, Reverend Freitag said, “I’m here, Harry. Call me, day or night.”
One night Harry picked up Donnie’s Bible, opened it at random and began to read. He read in Matthew about Jesus’’ birth, His preaching and His calling of Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. Harry was struck by the fact that when Jesus said, “follow me,” they simply left what they were doing and went with him.
Harry continued to read. Some things he marveled at, some things he couldn’t grasp. He called Reverend Freitag.
“I’ve been reading Donnie’s Bible,” he said, “Could you help me understand?”
“I’ll be right there,” said the Reverend. Over the next weeks they studied together. Finally, Harry said, “This accepting of Jesus as Savior, is that what Donnie had done?”
“Yes,” replied Reverend Freitag. “And you can do it, too.”
But it was several weeks before Harry committed his life to God. He prayed “Jesus, tell me how I can serve you best.” Nothing happened, and Harry complained to Reverend Freitag, “I asked God what He wants me to do and He didn’t answer. How can I do His will if I don’t know what He wants?”
“Keep reading and praying, “ said Reverend Freitag. “As you continue to grow in the Spirit, you will learn God’s plans for you.”
Several months later as Harry read the Gospel of Mark, the words, “Go ye and preach the Gospel to every creature,” jumped out at him. (Mark 16:15 KJV) Puzzled, he read the words again. I’m not a preacher, he thought, this has nothing to do with me.
But, in the middle of the night he woke with the words ringing in his head. Harry called Pastor Freitag. “I’m not a preacher,” he said, “why does this verse keep going through my mind?”
“Harry, “ said Pastor Freitag, “I have watched and listened to you for some time. You are an excellent witness. You have a powerful story to tell about Donnie’s death and your eventual salvation. I believe God is calling you.”
“But there is so much I don’t know,” said Harry.
That’s what seminaries are for.” Said Pastor Freitag.
“I don’t have the money!” Said Harry. “How would I live?”
“Trust God, Harry,” said the Pastor. “Open your mind and heart as you pray to see if this is, indeed, God’s will for you.”
Over the next months as Harry prayed, doors were opened. His job was cut back; Harry sold his house for enough to sustain him, with the congregation’s help, until he got through seminary. After that, he’d just trust God to take it from there.
Oh, Donnie, he said one night, I pray that up in heaven you realize you did not die in vain. I’m sorry that’s the only way God could get my attention. *based on a true story
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