THE THIRTEENTH DAY OF SEPTEMBER IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN.
I recently received an email from a lady named Darlene, whom I did not know, stating that my friend Wayne had urged her to tell me about a special situation and to request that I mention it in gracEmail. Harry Robert Fox, 94, a long-time missionary to Japan, now in a care facility, had written what he considered his “final paper,” Darlene said. Wayne thought I would appreciate it, as would many gracEmail subscribers.
This was an easy call. I first met Harry Robert Fox 25 years ago at the Pepperdine Lectures, loved him immediately as one thoroughly devoted to Christ, then lost touch with him through the years. Darlene sent me his 12-page “final paper,” a combined Bible study and personal testimonial titled “God’s Unconditional Commitment to Us.” Using Galatians and other scripture texts, Fox shows the absolute certainty of God’s commitment to the believer, beginning with God’s unconditional and unilateral promise to give childless old Abram and his barren wife Sarai a natural-born heir, through whom God would bless all nations of the earth.
I read the paper immediately and recommended it to gracEmail subscribers in the “family notes” dated Wednesday, September 9. (You can still obtain a copy of Fox’s 12-page paper by a simple request to firstname.lastname@example.org .) Harry also invited me to visit with him by phone. Our ongoing “visit,” in sections timed to accommodate his needs, now cumulatively totals about three hours. These conversations have touched me deeply, strengthened my own faith, and reminded me of the things that matter most. The first time Harry answered the telephone, his voice sounded as strong as ever, making his reply even more startling when I asked, “How are you today?” and he answered, “From the neck up, I am fine; from there down, totally useless.”
Harry Robert Fox is in hospice care (“for people expected to live not more than six months”) and he receives morphine patches to minimize his pain. He is totally dependent on caregivers for everything. But most of all, Harry Robert Fox, at six years short of the century mark, is triumphant and hopeful, grateful and full of joy. “I have had more opportunities to share the gospel here than at any other time in my life,” he told me with excitement in his voice. “I have had a blessed life,” he reflected. “I know that God is unconditionally committed to me for my ultimate good.” He paused, then declared with firm conviction, “For that reason I am able to accept even my present condition as also from his loving hand.”