In early 1994, one of my closest high school friends died after a long battle with cancer. His death really bugged me because I had prayed and fasted over a long period of time for him.
Was I mad at the Lord about my friend’s death? Yes.
Doesn’t scripture state that “all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you?” I prayed for my friend to live, but he died. How could I ever really trust that particular verse again?
On the three hour trip back to the small Illinois town of my youth, I poured my heart out to the Lord. Although I felt comforted, I had no answers. As I walked up to the church, some high school friends delayed me. We chatted about old times for a few minutes.
This delay caused my parents to walk on without me. When I finally stepped into the sanctuary, there was quite a line ahead of me. Standing there, I asked, “Lord, did my friend make it into heaven?”
Now, this is not a question I recommend believers should ever ask the Lord because what if you don’t like His answer, then what? Yet, I was so upset about my friend’s death, I asked anyway. You see, not only was I asking for his healing, but I was also asking the Lord to save him.
The procession slowly crept toward the closed casket sitting at the front of the church. Just as I arrived at the casket, the Lord spoke to my heart, “He’s not in this casket. He’s in heaven with Me.”
I could have danced and shouted for joy. It was one of my happiest moments ever.
Then, I turned the corner and faced my friend’s wife and family. They were standing on the left side of the altar, receiving funeral attendees. As I inched toward them I began crying, not a few tears but buckets of them. I wailed and was almost out of control. People turned to look, but I could not stop.
My friend’s wife, his two children and his parents comforted me, instead of the other way around. I was such a mess. Finally, I sat down next to my parents in the middle of the church. Somehow, my crying ceased.
What was that all about? I thought.
Piano music announced the beginning of the service. As the pianist played, the Lord spoke to my heart. “Your friend was called to be a prophet and he didn’t make it into his calling. The misery you felt was just a fraction of what I feel when a person doesn’t make it into his calling.”
The Lord’s words caused me to break down and weep. My parents, on the left side of me, and my sister, on the other side, tried to comfort me, but what could they do? My heart was shattered by the grief of the Lord.
Eventually, the misery passed.
After some songs and family testimonies, the pastor began the eulogy. I listened to her, but once again, the Lord spoke to me.
“My church is mostly a bunch of losers. They pray for the sick, but when the person dies anyway, they aren’t upset or mad. They just think they did their duty and at least made an effort, and that’s good enough for them,” said the Lord to my heart.
My jaw dropped, wondering what was coming next.
“Major League players all want to win, but after a while, players on losing teams don’t mind losing. After all, they still receive their large paychecks. So, it’s no big deal to them. But players on winning teams hate to lose, absolutely hate it. They will do anything to win and whatever sacrifice is needed, they willingly do it for victories.
“I want My church to hate losing,” He said.
His words, “I want My church to hate losing,” exploded within me. Its echoes bounced off every corridor and passageway of my mind. Once again, I wept.
This happened twenty-two years ago and it still resonates within me.
What does this experience have to do with San Francisco?
(Continued in Part 6…if you are interested, the full series, which was written in 2011, may be seen here.