Note of Hope

It was mid-afternoon on a bright spring day in Orange County, California, where Leslie and I had recently moved. I had just printed out the nearly five hundred pages of the manuscript of this book and was in the midst of packing them into a box when Leslie poked her head into my office.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

I gestured toward the manuscript. "There's someone I want to send this to," I replied.

Leslie put down her cup of tea and walked over to put her arm around my shoulder. "Chuck Templeton, right?" she said. "I think about him from time to time. In fact, I've been praying for him."

That didn't surprise me. "Praying what?" I asked.

"That he'd still be healthy enough to reconsider his conclusions about God. That he'd be open to the explanations you've received from the experts. That he'd respond to that tug inside of him that seems to be pulling him toward Jesus."

I nodded. I had been praying too. "I talked to his wife on the phone a few minutes ago," I said. "She told me the Alzheimer's hasn't been very kind to Chuck and that now he has some other health problems. When I got a chance to talk to Chuck and ask him how his Alzheimer's was, he answered with just one word in a very despondent voice-he said, 'Devastating. "'

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Leslie said quietly.

"Me too," I sighed. "It's very sad." I put some more pages into the box. "She also said Billy Graham came to see Chuck a few months ago."

Leslie's eyes widened. "Really?" she said. "What happened?"

"They hadn't seen each other in quite a while. She said when Chuck recognized him, it was as if a chill went through him and he started crying and threw his arms around Billy and hugged him. She couldn't say enough wonderful things about how kind and loving Billy was. They visited for a while and ate together. Billy prayed before the meal-she said, 'That's the first time grace has ever been said at our table.' Then before he left, Billy prayed for Chuck."

I could see that Leslie's eyes were moist. "I'm so glad they were able to spend some time together," she said. "Maybe something will come out of it."

I nodded and then turned to resume packing the manuscript. "Madeleine said she was anxious to see my book and promised to read it to Chuck," I said. "I just hope he hasn't waited too long and that his mind will be clear enough to understand what these scholars have said. But I feel like I've got to send it-just in case."

With that, I sat down to write him a letter, wishing him well and encouraging him, as best he can, to keep an open mind and take a fresh look at the evidence for Jesus. I signed my name and put down the pen, but I hesitated to fold the letter. I wanted to write something else; I just wasn't sure what was left to say.

I glanced out the window. Saddleback Mountain was majestic against the deep blue sky. For a while I was lost in thought. And then, suddenly, words flooded into my mind. I picked up the pen, and with Leslie peering over my shoulder, quickly added this postscript:

Chuck, I hope you'll take to heart what Proverbs 2:3-5 says: "If you scream for insight and call loudly for understanding, if you pursue it like you would money, and search it out as you would hidden treasure, then the Lord will be awesome to you, and you will come into possession of the knowledge of God."

I sealed the note in an envelope and tossed it into the box, then picked up the car keys.

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