John 12:21 says, “They came to Phillip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’” Isn’t that the true longing of each of our hearts—to see Jesus face to face—to be in His presence and to know His love in our lives? We can! We do!
Quite a few years ago, I began a daily habit with our corps folks of going on a “God Hunt.” The purpose? To take time at the end of each day to acknowledge how we saw God actively involved in our lives. It focused our eyes on Jesus and it also encouraged our hearts to know how intimately God loves us.
Some days I saw God involved in my life through the beauty of His creation, or through His provision for a special need I had prayed about, or the joy of seeing lives being transformed and having a small part in the blessing of God’s grace. Other days I had to be more creative in “seeing” God at work. But the more I looked intentionally, the more I learned about God’s ways. And the more I learned about God’s ways, the more He transformed my eyes to see Jesus and my ears to hear and know His voice. “Sir, we would see Jesus—in our world; in our lives.”
This became more evident in my life, especially as it came to sharing the Gospel message with my unsaved family members. I have failed and faltered in my approach at times, but I have prayed for my them for over 40 years. I prayed asking God to care for them, to protect them and to keep them from their own stupidity or unwise choices (okay, let’s be real). I also prayed that the Lord would bring people into their lives to share Christ Jesus and be a witness to them of His grace and love. This was so important since I have lived about 1,000 miles away from them most of my adult life. “Sir, they need to see Jesus!”
Another scripture in John 12, verse 32 says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” I remember Colonel Milton Agnew sharing that the word “draw” in Greek meant to attract like a magnet; but not just a quick clash of metal to metal, rather more like an electromagnet that is constantly pulling and doesn’t let go. That became my focal prayer for my loved ones. As I pray and lift up Jesus, I ask that God would draw my loved ones to Himself. “Sir, they are seen by Jesus!”
A little over 10 years ago, my oldest brother, Jim, called to say he had developed Stage 4 Melanoma. It was hard news. Jim talked about what the doctors said, possible treatments, and was very positive and ready to take cancer on. Listening to God, the Holy Spirit prompted me to say in response, “Jim, you’ve had a great life so far. You’ve experienced power, prestige and wealth. You’ve been in charge and turned around many companies and done very well. You are a good person and have been good to your family. However, this cancer is not something you can control. Jim, this is where your faith journey is going to begin. I’ve been praying for you for over 40 years, but could I pray with you right now?” Jim said he would like that. So I prayed with and for him at that moment. And for the next two years whenever I talked with him on the phone he would say, “You aren’t going to hang up without praying with me, are you?” “Sir, I will help you see Jesus.”
Two years later, as Jim’s cancer seemed in remission, it suddenly began to digress rapidly. His cancer was spreading throughout his body—lymphatic system, liver and lungs. In our continuing honest and sensitive conversations I asked Jim if he had any fears about dying? His answer was, “I know my sins are forgiven and am now going to find out what this heaven is all about.” He died about 4 weeks later. “Sir, I now see Jesus!”
At Jim’s memorial service I was astonished by the number of Christian friends he had. Jim only attended church on the rare occasion throughout his life. Yet, a business partner, his motorcycle riding buddy and many friends came up to me after the service with their condolences and told me how they shared Christ with Jim from their own faith. I was amazed at how God had actually been answering my prayers over the past 40 years—even though I never saw how God was doing His work in Jim’s life. Frankly, I just kept praying in faith all that time, even after our mother was promoted to Glory a year before Jim. I needed to keep her prayers heavenward. And unknown to me, God was answering my exact prayer of bringing people into Jim’s life. Jim believed in Jesus after 40 years of praying—and every moment was worth it! “Sir, we will see Jesus!”
As we have just gone through a difficult year that has left us worn and weary, I am thankful for the reality of heaven, of salvation, of forgiveness, of grace and of eternal life! Heaven is real and I have many loved ones there who see Jesus every day now face–to–face; one of whom is my brother, Jim. He saw Jesus in the lives of so many people. They were the answer to my prayer . . . and now you and I can be the answer to someone else’s prayer for their loved one. “Sir, we would see Jesus—in YOU!”