This is the first part of a series about Carl, age 72, who enrolled in our outpatient hospice service with lymphoma. He and his wife, Mary, raised their family on a farm but moved to their apartment about two years ago.
Carl is the type of fellow who makes you feel at home right away. He loves people and loves to talk. And he definitely loves to praise God and tell others how good God has been to him. As Carl began telling me the following story I knew a series was in the making:
“I was in Grant hospital for open heart surgery in nineteen-eighty-seven. My roommate was only in his forties and he was in for a pacemaker. We were only together overnight. He was a really nice guy. He got to talking with me and I asked him where he lived.
I asked him if he had a family and he told me he was divorced or maybe separated, I can’t remember which. But he had two kids. He was scared to death about his pacemaker surgery. That’s how I knew he wasn’t a Christian. I asked him if he went to church and he said, ‘I can’t say that I do. I used to be a Christian.’ He said he fell away. I told him, ‘God will take you right back, but it’s up to you.’ I think I scared him worse when I asked him if he was ready.
“I told him I’d be going to another room after my surgery and that I probably wouldn’t see him again. I told him, ‘You quit your worrying. They’ll take good care of you.’ Then it just came to me; it dawned on me all at once. I felt kind of silly but I told him, ‘You might think I’m crazy but the Lord told me He wants you to pray for me. Will you do that for me?’ He told me, ‘I’m not a Christian but I’ll do anything I can to help you. I really don’t know how to pray but I’ll do my best.’ I assured him, ‘It’ll come back to you.’ I asked him to bow down next to my bed in the room and pray for me after they took me to surgery.
“He found me the next day and told me, ‘I did exactly what you asked me to do and when I was praying a feeling came over me. It was like a blanket came over me. I just lost myself. I was so happy I didn’t know what to do with myself. I looked up from the bed to the window and there was a rainbow in the sky.’ He said that he was so excited that when he was walking down the hallway afterwards that a nurse stopped him and asked if she could help him and that he told her, ‘Something good just happened to me’, and he told her the whole story. He said she told him, ‘I could tell by your face that it had to be something good. You got saved and the rainbow is a sign for you.’
“A few weeks later we saw each other in the doctor’s office for our follow-ups. He thanked me and told me that him and his wife got back together and the whole family was saved and in church together.”
When Carl finished the story his countenance changed. He appeared sad or troubled and said, “How many times have we hurt God by not listening to Him, by not doing what He tells us to do? And look at the blessings we miss out on and the blessings others miss out on too”
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us it is the power of God…it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” (I Corinthians 1:18-31)
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at email@example.com. You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.