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17th March: Opportunity

Seek the Lord while he may be found. Isaiah 55:6

Late one night, when I was a house surgeon at a city hospital, Mrs P was admitted to the medical ward in congestive heart failure. She was in her early sixties, very breathless, and also very apprehensive. She progressed only slowly in subsequent days, and was obviously very worried about her prognosis.

I stopped to talk to her one day, and she asked about her chances. I said `We all like to hang on to a little bit of this life, but I believe in more to come'. She was both interested and surprised that I, as a doctor, should believe in the spiritual realm. I discussed my faith.

Her immediate response was: `I'm not cut out to be a believer. Anyway, isn't it rather presumptuous to believe?' `Christ obviously meant himself to be taken seriously,' I replied.

A week later I paused in the ward to talk to her on the Saturday morning of my weekend off. She asked me what I did to become a Christian. I explained: `There was nothing magic - I came to the point of surrender to Christ, and now I seek to follow his will'.

Came the reply: `Don't you think it's a coward's way out at my age?'. `Not if you are truly repentant' I said. `The dying thief on the cross could not have been nearer his end, and he was "accepted"'.

`Couldn't I follow in a sort of way?' she said. `Very vague, isn't it?' I replied.

I left for my weekend off. When I came back on the Monday morning the other house surgeon on the ward said: `Oh, a patient of yours died suddenly at 8.30pm last night'. It was Mrs P.

As I saw the cold, lifeless body lying in the post-mortem room later that day, I couldn't help thinking of our conversations and wondering what she had done with Christ in that last 36 hours. Death had come, with sudden finality, as a thief in the night and ushered her into eternity. Post-mortem examination showed a myocardial infraction, which the ECG had not picked up, and death was due to ventricular fibrillation.

Help me, Lord, to be ready always to give an account of my faith, and to share it with others.

Further reading: Pr 29:1. Is 55:6-7. 2 Tim 2:24-26.


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