“Pastor, could I stop by the church for prayer?” Bill phoned.

In short order this committed layman sat with me in the sanctuary.

“I have this severe pain in my side,” Bill explained. “I’m going to the doctor for tests. I would appreciate you praying with me.”

I felt honored.

“Lord, we thank you for Bill. We know his commitment to You is real. For this we give thanks. Now we pray for the health of the Holy Spirit to be upon his life,” I interceded.

“I don’t know what I would do without a praying church,” he said.

Within a few days, I received another call. Bill had been admitted to Maine Medical Center.

“You know, this is not something that has come on suddenly,” Esther, his wife, explained. “We are learning how to give it over to the Lord.”

This couple, life-long Sebagoites, were prime examples of Christian trust.

I visited Bill before and after surgery. Many from the church prayed, visited and sent cards. “I see that you are indeed remembered,” I assured Bill at the hospital. “I am blessed,” he answered.

After surgery, Bill suffered some complications. “I wonder what is happening,” Esther pondered quietly.

“We will know in due time,” I replied.

“Yes. Faith,” she reminded herself.

Bill, released from the hospital, continued to be exceptionally tired. It was then Esther phoned the parsonage. “I know that you and your wife are quite busy. But Bill is depressed over his condition.”

“We will stop by. How about the four of us taking a drive through the Lakes Region?”

Season’s colors burst extravagantly all over Maine. It was one of those outlandish times when God outdid Himself with nature’s marvelous display. Yet I detected fear in Bill’s eyes.

“I believe that God has much in store for you. Whatever happens, Bill, you are being used of the Lord.” Bill sighed in relief, as if presented with an awesome gift – faith renewed, regardless!

What a difference those few words had made. They started to turn Bill around. Do we truly understand how powerful a few words can be – for good or ill?

We drove through the welcoming hills. Bill was getting his mind on other things than his condition. “I need this,” he said. “I need to get out each day with friends from the church.”

The next evening, we invited Bill and Esther to our parsonage. “You look so much better,” I exclaimed. “You seem much stronger than even yesterday, Bill!”

“I feel much better.”

“His color is certainly improved,” Esther added.

Bill’s face lit up. Again he caught our words and ran with them. Faith renewed, regardless!

As our friends drove away, I thought to myself of why believers are here. What does a life mean? Health and sickness, winnings and losings.

“Lord, I thank you for the possibilities. The challenges. The new beginnings. I believe that we have just spent an evening taking it all in in the life of a close friend named ‘Bill.’ Thank you, God.”

So Bill continued to exude his faith for several more years. But then it came time for him to walk all the way home. When that final moment arrived, Bill left us, not bemoaning, but with the same steady courage that sustained him through his illnesses.

All along he thanked us for sharing kind words of faith. In return, we thanked him for living out the power of those words.

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