Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Are you ready?

The phone rang at 10:24PM.

I looked up at Gail and she said, "It's kind of late for a phone call", knowing that when the phone rings that late in a pastor's house it isn't going to be a lunch invitation. She was right.

"He's been taken to the hospital and his wife has asked that you be there." The prognosis was not good.

We were simply acquaintances, although his wife and mother-in-law are family of close friends. In fact, he was my son's Little League coach 22 years ago. I had only seen him a couple of times at the most in those two-plus decades. But I was asked to come right away, and being a believer in Divine appointments, I put on my shoes, brushed my teeth, and headed down the road.

While I'm no physician, I've been around the block a time or two in the hospital and ER in my pastoral experience. As I stood just inside the curtain that separated the room from the doctors and nurses station, it only took a second to know this would likely be my last chance to see him.

He was conscious and alert, and through the mask that covered most of his face, giving him oxygen as he labored for every breath I could see his eyes widen as he saw me. I took it as a sign that he was glad to have me there. At least three medical professionals were tending to him, working on needles, bags and such. So I stayed near the foot of the bed and gave a simple wave.

This was not a good time to try and get close enough to talk, so I left for the waiting room.

My third trip back to see him found him hooked up to everything imaginable. Only one nurse was there, punching things into a computer. So I walked up to the side of his bed, took his hand and said what needed to be said. His wife stood beside me.

"I'm not going to tell you what you don't already know. You don't have a lot of time left on this earth." He was looking directly into my eyes as he continued to struggle for each shallow breath. A slight nod told me he knew it, too. "I need to ask you...are you ready? Do you know Jesus is your Savior?"

The next nod wasn't so slight. It was deliberate.

"Knowing that will give you the peace you'll need through this night, and it will bring great peace to your family."

I prayed with him that God would help him through the night; that he might get some rest; that the Lord would bring comfort and strength to his family.

He was transported by helicopter to a hospital 80 miles away where he could be in an ICU. Today, after his wife, children, mother and sister said theirs goodbyes, he was taken off the ventilator and in a few minutes slipped into eternity.

He was ready.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life."

One day all of us will have a similar experience. Perhaps it will be dragged out for days or weeks. Perhaps it will happen in an instant and be totally unexpected. But we will all face our mortality.

Ready or not.

1 comment:

Betsy in ar said...

I have had you on my blog feed forever. I haven't checked my feed in forever, but I did today. Thank you for taking time to relay this part of your life. Brought tears to my eyes. I pray that someone will ask me that question when it's my time. What a blessing you were to him and his family.