We thought we were going into the dining room for another wonderful dinner with our new cruise friends. Instead, we learned once again that the Holy Spirit is never on vacation but is, in fact, always at work.
On the first full day at sea we went to our assigned place for the evening meal where tuxedoed servers waited to treat us like royalty. We were introduced to our tablemates for the week, a lovely couple from North Carolina (we knew they were from the south the minute they said hello), an elderly gentleman in a motorized wheelchair, and his traveling companion, Kay. We learned pretty quickly that Mr. Jed, the one in the wheelchair, was 82-years-old, had survived two strokes but was left with very little use of his legs and his left arm. We watched appreciatively as our thoughtful server helped Mr. Jed cut his meat when the entrees were brought to the table. “Religious affiliation” was lightly mentioned in our initial conversation, but most of the talk was light-hearted and superficial.
The following three nights the six of us got to know each other even better as we shared stories pertaining to our families and past professions. We especially enjoyed Mr. Jed’s descriptions of the months he spent on a submarine while he was in the navy. But, on the fifth night, the North Carolina couple dined in another shipboard restaurant in order to celebrate their 55th anniversary, and Kay chose to stay behind in her cabin to recuperate from a rigorous shipboard excursion. Steve and I were alone with Mr. Jed.
A layer of liking, appreciation and trust was already in place from the previous hours we’d been together. This time I asked Mr. Jed if he was still active in the church he’d mentioned during our first dinner together. He said no and went on to describe an incident that had completely turned him off of that church years ago. But, he also described his very godly grandmother and how many times he’d seen her studying the Bible.
Steve: “Well, Mr. Jed, who is Jesus to you?”
Mr. Jed: “He’s my Savior.”
Steve: “So, if you died tonight, do you think you’d go to heaven?”
Mr. Jed: “I have no idea.”
Steve began to explain how Mr. Jed could have assurance of salvation while I silently prayed. Mr. Jed leaned in close and listened intently. Others in the dining room began to trickle out. Our servers remained nearby but seemed to sense that no interruption was necessary. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit gave Mr Jed that opportunity to hear the truth and used Steve as his mouthpiece. Steve urged Mr. Jed to spend time with the Lord before he went to bed that night and to accept the reality of Jesus as his Savior.
Mr. Jed and Faye were not at dinner the last night, but we saw them briefly at the airport the next morning. Mr. Jed was cordial to Steve. We don’t know what transpired between Mr. Jed and God, but we do know that he heard the gospel again and had the opportunity to accept it. We’re still praying for him.
1 John 5:13 (New American Standard Bible NASB) — “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, SO THAT YOU MAY KNOW that you have eternal life.”
John 20:31 (NASB) — “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
1 Peter 3:15 (NASB) — “ but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence . . . “