Providential Encounter with my Neighbor

I love Nestor. He’s my neighbor of about 35 years. I love Bill, too. Bill is Nestor’s father of about 70 years. I love them both — Nestor, and Nestor’s father, Bill. Recently, I went over to see Nestor, and I discovered that Bill had a sprained ankle. Ouch! That hurts (usually). I felt for Bill. I also sensed something “providential” about this incident. Perhaps God had a purpose in allowing Bill to be laid up on a sickbed for a while. I proceeded to share with Bill, from my heart.

“That must hurt, Bill,” I said.

“Well, actually, it doesn’t hurt too much,” Bill replied.

We talked for a while, and then came the opportunity for me to pray for Bill (Bill knows I am a Christian). Bill accepted the invitation. I asked Bill if it was okay for me to place my hand on the area that was affected, and he said that he didn’t mind. However, I didn’t rush into this, but waited patiently for God’s leading on the matter (in fact, we talked for quite a while before I felt the “go ahead” in my spirit to ask Bill if I could pray for him in this way. Bill accepted the invitation, and it was obvious to me that, indeed, Bill did not mind. The ground of Bill’s heart had been tilled, not only through this encounter, but through other encounters I, as well as my wife and two kids, had had with Bill.

I closed my eyes, and gently put my hand over the sprained area, and then began to pray for Bill. I was conscious that this was somewhat of an unsual experience for Bill, and began to pray, as God led me. I prayed that the swelling would go down. I prayed that all the tissues would be healed, and so on, until I sensed that that was “all” I should pray for (until the “leading” to pray died down). During that prayer, I also felt led to pray for Bill’s use of time. “Lord, help Bill to take this opportunity to do some reading, perhaps, that he has been unable to do while working. Help him to use this time in a way that is profitable, and help him to fill the gap, while he is waiting for his sprained ankle to heal.” In terminating my prayer, I couldn’t get this thought out of my mind: “What about all those tracts that I have sitting in my shirt pocket? Bill might be able to read these while he is “laid up” on his sickbed.” I thought and I thought. “Should I give him the tracts? Is this appropriate?”

I would like to say, I do NOT always think it is appropriate to simply “give tracts away,” despite what some think on this topic. I think it is a fallacy and erroneous theology that says we must simply “give tracts out” to everyone we meet. What I DO think is important, is that, in whatever we do, we be SENSITIVE to God’s voice, asking him first how we are to proceed. Sometimes, of course, I may even be a little “too” precautious, and “miss the mark,” as it were, but in this case, I do not think I did. I felt it was OKAY to offer Bill the tracts. I did so unapologetically. In fact, I simply took out all of the tracts (at the “appropriate” time) and said to Bill, “Hey, look, Bill, I picked some of these up while at church this morning, and I would like to offer them to you to read while you are waiting for your ankle to heal.” Bill accepted them all — all six of them, varied as they were, with all sorts of “angles” by which to present the gospel in an effective, honorable, and yet forthright manner. Glory to God for his indescrible gift (of salvation)! May God be pleased to use all of these tracts to gently, forthrightly, and effectively, lead Bill — and his son, who has also agreed to read these tracts — into God’s eternal kingdom.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”