Scotland - a magnificently beautiful country which I was fortunate enough to experience years ago when we took my mother to see the land of her parents’ birth. A highlight of the trip was seeing all the black-faced sheep on the hillsides and at times right on the road in front of us! I even brought one of them home with me (photo above).
Little did I know how significant sheep would be in my family’s journey.
My mother suddenly became a single mom when I was a teenager. That seemed to precipitate her gradual slipping away from God. God did not answer her prayers the way she wanted Him to—to restore our family. She became angry with God and eventually stopped going to church.
People who know me know I have a passion for prayer. My mother was high on my list of people to pray for.
In May of 2011, while praying with a friend, the Lord spoke an amazing sentence to me: "Your mother will not die this year." I dismissed it as some random thought. But He said it again, and again. By the third time I decided maybe this is God, so I wrote it in my journal. It turned out to be extremely significant.
Three months later my mother fell while stepping into her garage at 9 pm suffering life-threatening injuries. She lay on the cold cement floor for 7 hours until a neighbor heard her calling for help around 4 am.
The ER doctor showed me the x-rays and said quite seriously, "Your mother may not make it. You might want to call in your family members."
Remembering God's promise that my mother would not die that year, I replied calmly: "No, she'll be fine." Indeed, she did recover and every January for the next five years the Lord would again tell me, "Your mother will not die this year."
When she turned 90 I began to wonder how much longer she would be with us. I had two major prayer requests: 1) Please don't let her die until she is saved, and 2) please prepare me ahead of time. We had had too many sudden tragedies in our family and I did not want another one.
One day as I was praying I saw the numbers: 91, 92, 93, 94 in my mind's eye. Was God showing me she would live until her 94th year?
This last November, 2016, my mother fell again. She did not fully recover and had to transition to a nursing home. I knew that in 2017 she would turn 94. Time was running out. Would God answer my two prayers?
Something amazing happened on December 30, 2016. The mother-in-law of a friend of mine woke up, heard the Lord tell her, "Call your son-in-law and tell him to go pray for Betty's salvation. He hopped in the car with his wife and drove to the nursing home. After introducing themselves they told my mom that Jesus chose to die on the Cross to pay for her sins and that when she left this life behind she could have all the riches of heaven for which He paid. To my amazement, she prayed to receive Jesus Christ as her Savior.
You have to understand how significant this was. Whenever I tried to talk to her about God she would say, "Don't preach to me!" Once I told her that God loved her and she responded, "Well, I don't love Him!"
Yet, because of God's mercy and His unconditional love for my mom, my first prayer was finally answered.
One day my mom told my daughter that she had been talking to God's right hand man. "Who is God's right hand man?" she asked. My daughter informed her it was Jesus talking to her. "He's so holy," she said. "People worship idols when they should be worshiping Him. He's so holy."
My heart used to ache because my mom had lived a hard life with very little joy. But one day after she was saved she commented,"I realize now that everything that has happened in my life was meant to draw me close to God." The pain in my heart was healed.
Well, what about my second prayer? Lord, please prepare me for her passing.
This January was the first time in 5 years that God did not tell me, "Your mother will not die this year." He was silent on that point.
But my mother began to prepare us. "I won't live to see my 94th birthday," She repeated that several times. Then one day I was praying about something and I saw the numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4. Is God telling me she would pass away in 4 days?
I warned our children that Grandma would probably pass away at the end of the week. We said our goodbyes. Indeed, exactly 4 days later she went home to be with the Lord. God had answered both of my prayers.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had left the 99 sheep to go after my mom, the one who strayed away (see Matthew 18:12-14).
It is never too late to say yes to Jesus.
It's never too late to pray for lost loved ones. He hears every prayer and wants to turn your heartache to hope, too.