A Lesson In God's Mercy And Forgiveness
Every November I think of Susan’s dad, Jesse W. Benton, who went to be with the Lord on November 4, 2009 while I was in India on a missions trip. I came home immediately and ministered at his memorial service. Today, I want to repost an article from November, 2009 when Susan’s dad died. I believe it will be a great encouragement...
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
I was in Rajahmundry, India on a Wednesday morning, November 4th, when I received the news via e-mail that Susan’s dad, Jesse W. Benton had died the night before. I was shocked and saddened at the news of course, but my mind immediately flashed a scene from the past before me that I would like to relate to you. This is rather personal to me, but I feel compelled to share it.
This past July (2009), Susan and I and our kids were coming home from a week of much needed vacation and decided to stop by Mr. Benton’s home to see how he was doing since his health had been declining for some time.
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and had rested a bit. I was in their kitchen going into their den when Mr. Benton rolled up to me in his motorized wheelchair. He told me that he would like for me to pray with him, and he had a look of great concern on his face.
I knelt down so we could speak face to face. He said to me, “Mitch, I want you to pray with me so that I will know that God has forgiven all my sins.” He had tears in his eyes. He said, “I know I haven’t always done everything that I should have, and that I’ve failed the Lord at times.” I said, “Mr. Benton, I’ll be glad to pray with you. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. When God forgives, He forgets everything we have ever done wrong, and treats us as though we had never sinned. Isaiah 43:25 says, I even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember your sins.”
I asked him if we could pray and he said “yes, please do.” I grabbed his aged hand in mine and asked him to repeat a prayer of confession and repentance of any and every sin of omission and commission that he had ever committed in his entire life. He prayed with me as tears streamed down his face. And suddenly he began to smile and then he began to laugh uncontrollably!
Mr. Benton had been raised in Pentecostal churches, and when he felt the Holy Spirit, he would sometimes begin to laugh. He would call it holy laughter. He laughed and cried tears of joy for I guess five minutes or so, and I laughed and cried with him.
Fellowship between him and his Heavenly Father had been restored. That night, he had the first night of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep that he had in a long time. His guilty conscience had kept him in a state of unrest and fitfulness. That Sunday night, the peace of God entered his life once again as he received the mercy and grace of God in a fresh way.
I was visiting with Mr. Benton again this past September (2009) . Susan’s mother had left to go to the grocery store to get a few items she needed. Susan was in another room. I was sitting in Mr. Benton’s living room where he was in his bed that had been placed there since he was ill. He looked over at me and said something, and I couldn’t understand him.
I went up to his bed and saw a hymn book lying on a nearby table. I asked him, “Mr. Benton, would you like for me to sing some of these hymns to you?” “Yes,” he replied with a smile. I began to sing, How Great Thou Art, and At The Cross. He began to hum the tunes with me as tears rolled down his cheeks. The presence of God filled his living room that day.
I picked up an old Bible that belonged to his family and read to him Psalm 100 and Psalm 23. Again, tears rolled down Mr. Benton’s face as the Holy Spirit witnessed to his heart from the Word. He and I had Pentecost all over again that Wednesday in September.
When I heard that Mr. Benton’s spirit had been released from his tired, worn body last Tuesday night (2009), I knew that he had experienced the fullness of joy, and the pleasures forevermore promised us in Psalm 16:11 when we enter the presence of God. We are not as others which have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
I look forward to seeing Mr. Jesse Benton again one day. Until then, you and I have a race to run. Let’s give God our best.
God has a lot of grace and mercy to extend to all of us. I often think of these experiences with Mr. Benton and how the Lord in His great mercy prompted him to pray with me just before he got to the point that he could not communicate because of his physical condition. God prepares us for what is ahead. And I will never forget how gracious the Lord was to Mr. Benton in allowing him to pray and make sure his conscience was clean before he died.
The Lord knows us. He knows what we need. He knows how to reach us at just the right time. Expect Him to work His grace into your life today. He knows you, and has made provision for you every need to be supplied. Look to Him!