It was early in my pastoral career; I was serving two small community churches about 16 miles apart. I received a call from a woman at one of the churches. The woman told me that a friend of a friend, heard of a family in the community, whose mother was in critical condition at a local hospital; and would I go see her.
New to ministry, and wanting to be a good pastor, I said that I would go. I put on my pastor suit, grabbed my Bible and headed to the hospital. I was ill prepared for what I was about to encounter.
When I arrived to the hospital, I asked for the room number of the ailing mother. I approached the room with a great deal of anxiety; not knowing what to expect.
The door was open, so I gently entered the room, standing in the doorway. I saw about 8 people in the room, and an elderly woman in the hospital bed. She was on life support; a respirator was helping her breathe; I could tell she was not long for this world.
When the family in the room turned to see who I was, they recognized I was a preacher; two of the teenage granddaughters, burst into tears and ran out of the room past me. The rest of the family just looked at me, not saying a word.
I began to stammer a bit, as I struggled for something to say. I told them that a friend of a friend of theirs had mentioned to a friend of mine, the situation regarding their mother and I thought I should come . . . awkward silence ensued!
As I stood there, in that tongue-tied, odd moment of indecision, the Lord took action; the power went out to the entire hospital! The room went dark for about 30 seconds; which seemed like an eternity.
The magnetic doors to all the rooms slammed shut; the poor woman on the ventilator began to choke and gasp for air, alarms were going off and the family in the room began to panic!
The whole power outage was short lived, but it created quite a stir; the nurses came bursting into the room, caring for the elderly woman; resetting the alarms and making sure she stabilized.
When the pandemonium calmed down; I whispered, “Lord, You don’t ever have to do that again . . . I know what I need to do and why I am here.”
I went to the bedside of the woman and I took her hand. I could not tell if she could hear me or not; she never once opened her eyes. I told her that I was a pastor who came to pray for her. I began to tell her how much Jesus loved her, and that she needed to trust in Him right now.
I shared a little more about Jesus, and then I asked if she was trusting in Jesus right now; at that instant, she gripped my hand hard, an indication to me that she heard everything I was saying, and that she was indeed trusting in Him.
I told her that if Jesus comes to her soon, that it is all right to go to Him. I said a prayer for her, and then quietly left the room.
The next afternoon, Jesus came to receive her and she went quietly with Him.
The family, none of whom attended any church, called me to see if I would do the funeral for their mom, since I knew her. I graciously accepted the request with honor. I began the funeral service by telling the very same story, I just told you!
God helps us in our walk with Him, going to extraordinary steps, to getting our attention. He got mine that day, and reminded me that I am on a mission to let people know, sick or not, that He is near, He loves them, and wants them to follow Him . . . It is that simple!
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”