Ronald Reagan is loved by modern Conservatives for bringing back Conservatism. He was also a man of deep faith. A letter recently surfaced of Reagan writing to his father-in-law where he pleads for him to find God.
Reagan knew that his father-in-law, Loyal, was facing health challenges and probably didn’t have much longer to live. He felt the deep burden in his soul for a man who was about to step into eternity without a relationship with Jesus Christ.
He wrote in his diary in August of 1982,
“Again at the W.H.. More of Saturdays work plus a long letter I have to write to Loyal. I’m afraid for him. His health is failing badly.”
Loyal had admitted to “Ronnie” he had trouble believing in Jesus or the Bible,
“I have never been able to subscribe to the divinity of Jesus Christ nor his virgin birth. I don’t believe in his resurrection, or a heaven or hell as places. If we are remembered and discussed with pleasure and happiness after death, this is our heavenly reward.”
Reagan on the other did believe in Jesus divinity, and the doctrines of Christianity. He knew that if Loyal slipped from this life without Jesus, he would be eternally lost.
The letter that President Reagan wrote to Loyal, was not part of the Reagan library, but was discovered recently and published with permission. Reagan begins his letter,
“Dear Loyal. I hope you’ll forgive me for this, but I’ve been wanting to write you ever since we talked on the phone. I’m aware of the strain you are under and believe with all my heart there is help for that. . . . ”
Reagan had personally experienced the healing power of prayer first hand. He shares a story of how he himself was healed of an ulcer, unaware that there were groups of people praying for him.
“First I want to tell you of a personal experience I’ve kept to myself for a long time. During my first year as Governor you’ll recall the situation I found in Calif. was almost as bad as the one in Wash. today. It seemed as if the problems were endless and insolvable.”
“Then I found myself with an ulcer. In all those years at Warner Bros., no one had been able to give me an ulcer and I felt ashamed as if it were a sign of weakness on my part. John Sharpe had me on Malox and I lived with a constant pain that ranged from discomfort to extremely sharp attacks.”
“This went on for months. I had a bottle of Maalox in my desk, my briefcase and of course at home. Then one morning I got up, went into the bathroom, reached for the bottle as always and some thing happened. I knew I didn’t need it. I had gone to bed with the usual pain the night before but I knew that morning I was healed. The Malox went back on the shelf.”
That morning when I arrived at the office Helene brought me my mail. The first letter I opened was from a lady — a stranger — in the Southern part of the state. She had written to tell me she was one of a group who met every day to pray for me. Believe it or not, the second letter was from a man, again a stranger, in the other end of the state telling me he was part of a group that met weekly to pray for me.”
Then he reveals what the doctor found at his next check up.
“…A couple of weeks later Nancy and I went down to L.A. and had our annual checkup. John Sharpe, a little puzzled, told me I no longer had an ulcer but added there was no indication I’d ever had one. Word of honor — I never told him about that particular day in Sacramento.”
He paraphrases a line of scripture from the Bible, Matthew 18:20,
“Where ever two or more are gathered in my name there will I be also.”
He was building his case with a man who was a pioneering neuro surgeon himself.
He goes on to share about God’s great love for Loyal himself, and praises the love he and his wife Edith have shared. He also tells him that there is a greater love yet to be experienced.
“The apostle John said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”
“We have been promised that all we have to do is ask God in Jesus name to help when we have done all we can — when we’ve come to the end of our strength and abilities and we’ll have that help. We only have to trust and have faith in his infinite goodness and mercy.”
“Loyal, you and Edith have known a great love — more than many have been permitted to know. That love will not end with the end of this life. We’ve been promised this is only a part of life and that a greater life, a greater glory awaits us. It awaits you together one day and all that is required is that you believe and tell God you put yourself in his hands.”
We don’t know with one hundred percent certainty that President Reagan’s overture had an impact, but years later, Nancy shared that when she was with her father on his deathbed at the hospital, he did ask for a chaplain to come and pray with him. “I noticed he was calmer and not as frightened.”
We can ask ourselves what good a chaplain would be to a man who didn’t believe in Jesus or the validity of scripture. One would only ask for a chaplain if he believed, or wanted to make a declaration of faith.
All of us will depart this life, but when we depart where will we go? Will it be into the everlasting arms of a father who gave his son for us? Or will it be eternal emptiness with no hope of salvation ever again?
We cast the deciding vote.