One Sunday morning as I was greeting the people after the morning service, one of our deacons came to me with a serious look on his face. He told me that he was burdened over a friend of his named Dyrk Garrison. He asked if I would go visit Dyrk with him. I said that I would be glad to visit with him.
Two days later, the deacon called me and asked if I had some time to go visit Dyrk that day. I said "Yes," and we arranged a time to go. When the deacon picked me up, I asked him about Dyrk. He said that Dyrk was 79 years old and recently widowed. He lived alone and had been in poor health for a long time. Dyrk's wife was a faithful Christian but she could never get Dyrk to go to church with her. After her death, Dyrk expressed to my deacon his regret that he had never gone to church with his wife. My deacon asked me to share the gospel with Dyrk.
We pulled into the driveway of a small, modest house a few miles from our church. As we approached the door, Dyrk came outside and greeted my deacon friend who promptly introduced him to me. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, Dyrk invited us inside. I asked Dyrk about his family and his employment history. His conversation revealed a man who was no-nonsense and didn't suffer fools gladly. He was very pleasant and respectful to me but he was also made sure that I knew what his opinion was about church. He didn't have a lot of respect for "church folks" because he saw them during the week and they didn't appear to be living any different than anyone else. I said nothing in response to his objections about church but just nodded my understanding of what he was saying.
When I turned the conversation to his deceased wife, his demeanor changed radically. He spoke of her in terms of tenderness which seemed foreign to such a man but he easily expressed his devotion to the love of his life. I asked him where he thought his wife was right now. He fought back the tears as he choked out, "heaven." Then I asked him where he thought he was going when he died and he replied, "I don't know." I asked him if he were standing before God right now why would God let him into heaven. He thought for a moment and said "I can't think of any good reason He would let me in."
I asked him if he would like to know what the Bible says about the way to heaven and he replied in the affirmative. I went through the gospel with him and he prayed to receive Christ that day. My deacon and I rejoiced with Dyrk as his demeanor went from sour to joyful. Although Dyrk had not been interested in church, he was very interested in Jesus. It was a great day in the Lord.
Three weeks later, I received a call that Dyrk was in the hospital with chest pains. I went to see him and he was genuinely glad to see me. He said the catherization had revealed a couple of blockages and they were going to do surgery in the morning. I prayed with him and assured him that I would be there for his surgery.
The next morning, I went by my office before heading out to the hospital. When I got there, a note was taped on the door. The note read, "Dyrk died last night." I stumbled into my office and called Dyrk's grandson. He told me that Dyrk had suffered a massive heart attack an hour after I had left his bedside. His family did not call me because they did not know my home number. I fell down trembling. Although I was surprised and devastated that my new friend had died, I trembled because the thought kept coming to me, "What if I had brushed off my deacon because I was too busy and not have gone to talk to Dyrk?" I sat there trembling for the longest time.
I had the privilege of performing Dyrk's funeral. From a preaching perspective, his funeral was the easiest one I have ever done. The story of his salvation was my sermon. I rejoiced with his family in that as long as a person is alive, it is never too late for Jesus to save him.
Even now, as I sit in my office writing these words, I can glance at the note that was taped to my office door that day: "Dyrk died last night." I have taped that note to the side of a bookcase next to my desk. I glance at it several times a day. It reminds me to be available to talk to anyone at anytime about Christ. The note also reminds me that as long as a person is still breathing, it is never too late for Jesus to save him or her.