Rock and The Rock

Roy Harold Fitzgerald died on October 2, 1985. He was raised Roman Catholic, but would, for most of his life, identify as an atheist. That changed as he lie on his deathbed, consumed by AIDS. Private nurse Toni Phillips said she and other nurses prayed with Fitzgerald nearly around the clock a couple of months before his death. Then came a moment when God put it on her heart to take the next step:

At 9 p.m. on Sept. 14, Ms. Phillips said, she sat on (his) bed talking with him: ″I asked him would he like to know Jesus now, would he like to invite him into his heart, and he said, ’Well, I guess it’s about time.‴ He agreed to take her hand, she said, ″and I said repeat after me, ‘Jesus come into my heart, be my Lord and Savior.’ And he repeated after me. ″Then I said, ‘OK, you can let go of my hand now.’ So then he got back into bed and I said, ‘Well, it looks like you’re stuck with me for eternity now.’ He said, ’Looks that way.‴

Toni Phillips told that story to the Christian Broadcasting Network. It was re-reported by Associated Press. Why did CBN and AP take an interest in someone you’ve probably never heard of? Because Roy Harold Fitzgerald was known professionally as Rock Hudson, one of the most popular American movie actors of the 1950s and 60s.

In the days following Hudson’s death, much was reported about “the Rock Hudson the world didn’t know.” I had never heard the story of his conversion until I stumbled upon it by accident recently. It struck me because of something going on in my life right now.

I have someone in my life who believes in God but also believes that he is too far gone; that God cannot possibly redeem the life he has lived and that he is condemned to hell. I must confess that after months of trying to convince him otherwise, I’m tempted to give up. Hudson’s story is a powerful reminder that God never gives up on anyone, and neither should we. Even as Jesus was dying on the cross, he made it clear that it’s never too late for anyone to come to Him. Two criminals were crucified with Jesus. This exchange is one of the best-known passages in the New Testament:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43 (NIV)

The criminal next to Jesus on the cross didn’t have to get “good enough for God.” All he had to do was confess, profess and receive. If you have not received Jesus, it’s never too late as long as you draw a breath in this life. And if there is someone in your life you’re about to give up on, don’t! God hasn’t given up on them and neither should you!

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