This week one of my patients died. I met him on Monday. When I first meet a patient, that first visit is usually 30-40 minutes. I spent nearly three hours with this patient. Within the first five minutes, he said to me, “Let me ask you a question, and I hope it doesn’t offend you.” The question was simple.
“Are you are born-again believer, having trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”
I enthusiastically said yes. We spent the next several hours discussing faith in Christ, world affairs, and politics before ending our visit (we mostly talked about faith). This patient was totally at peace with his eternal future. He wanted others to be at peace with theirs (the oxygen delivery guy was asked the same question). Before I left, I prayed with him, and we both looked forward to our next visit. I didn’t think it would be so soon.
He took a turn for the worse Monday night. I visited him Tuesday afternoon. He was in great pain, but was able to look me in the eye and joke, “Sorry I’m not such good company today.” I assured him it was OK, and once again prayed with him, asking God to bring him peace of mind and body. I left to allow his family to spend time with him. An hour later, I returned. Not as a chaplain, but as a bereavement coordinator. He had passed, peacefully.
During my first visit, the patient pulled out one of the gospel tracts that he carried with him at all times. For years, he had passed out these tracts and asked people that most important question. I don’t know how much success he had. Some of us may consider his method old-school or ineffective. Maybe it was. But here’s what I know.
He did something.
He asked the most important question. He asked it while he still had time, all the way up to his dying day.
What are we doing?