Perfect Timing

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Everyone in town knew Karen because she was a sweet woman who would help anyone. She volunteered in our town’s fire department, belonged to several community causes, was a terrific single mom to two teenagers and worked full time. But we all knew she was dying, yet no one wanted to say it out loud.

She had been able to beat back the cancer a few years earlier, but it had returned with a vengeance, and this time Karen was going to lose the battle.

We all loved her warm, selfless personality, but I was concerned about her soul. As wonderful as she was, I didn’t think she was saved. In other words, I wasn’t sure her soul would go to Heaven when she died.

I began to pray earnestly that God would allow me to speak to her about her soul.

I drove by her house when I went to town and saw she often had visitors. How would I ever get a chance to speak to her alone?


Although we were acquainted with each other, we weren’t close. I had no idea how I could gracefully walk into her house and announce I was there to talk about death. Who does that to a single mother of teenagers?


Day after day I drove by her house and prayed for Karen’s soul. Time after time I asked God to show me how to approach the subject and when to do it. Two seasons went by, and I still hadn’t witnessed to Karen. I held my breath, wondering if I would get the chance, but didn’t have peace about being pushy.


Then one day it happened. My seven-year-old son was at a church activity and I found myself free to do something on my own. “Lord, what do you want me to do now?” Right away the answer came: “It’s time to go see Karen.”


I called and asked if I could buy sandwiches and have lunch with her. She graciously welcomed the suggestion and agreed on a time. I grabbed a paperback New Testament on my way out the door.


When I arrived, Karen called out her welcome from the couch where she was propped up on pillows. Water, crackers and medicine had been set within her reach, but she was the only one home. She was weak, but able to converse while we ate. We talked about her children and her health in very general terms. In my heart I cried out to God for perfect timing to ask Karen about her soul. She half-heartedly nibbled on her sandwich, then commented that she didn’t have much of an appetite and asked me to put the leftovers in the refrigerator.


As I settled back down across from her I asked if I could read from the paperback Bible, and she readily agreed. I opened up to John 14 and read verses 1-6. “'Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.' Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life, No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”


She listened carefully to every word and when I looked up from the Bible I asked: “Did you know that you can know for sure you are going to Heaven when you die?”


Her breath caught in a small gasp and her eyes locked on mine: “I can?”


“Yes, the Bible is clear that we cannot earn our way to Heaven, but Jesus died for our sins and promises to take us to Heaven if we will receive Him as our Savior.”




I turned to Romans and read several verses.

3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


“Karen, do you believe you are a sinner?”


“Oh yes, I know I am a sinner.”


“Do you realize that you cannot save yourself?”


 She was listening intently, clinging to every word. “Yes, I do.”


Romans 5:8 says 'God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.' Do you believe Jesus died for your sins?”


She affirmed she did believe that.


“You can pray right now and ask Jesus to come into your heart to save you from your sins. Would you like to do that?”


Her eyes were full of earnestness: “Oh yes, I would!”


Quietly but clearly, she prayed with me, acknowledging that she was a sinner and could not save herself. Then she asked Jesus to come into her heart and save her from her sin. She finished by thanking God for answering her prayer.


After that I prayed and thanked God for saving Karen and giving her the assurance that she would go to Heaven when she died.


My heart was bursting with thanksgiving as I drove away that day. God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Karen was ready and truly wanted to be saved!


“To wait on God means to pause and soberly consider our own inadequacy and the Lord’s all-sufficiency, and to seek counsel and help from the Lord, and to hope in Him.” John Piper


I left the paperback Bible with her, but she had very little time to read it. A week after our visit her health took a turn for the worse and her mind became clouded with pain. Two weeks after that she went to Heaven to meet Jesus.


When we attended her memorial service we were told that Karen had planned her own funeral a year earlier. Then I understood why she was willing to talk openly about the state of her soul. She was a desperate woman who knew her time was short. God had prepared her heart for that moment when she would be home alone to carefully consider His offer to save her.


Even as I have penned these words my heart has rejoiced again at God’s leading and timing. God saved Karen’s soul thirteen years ago. I am thankful that one day I will see her again and His timing will be perfect then, too.

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"What a beautiful expression of God's grace. Thank you, Linda. Thank you for all that you do to help others, and especially rising instead of caving when life throws the worst of curve balls. You are a hero"


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