The BIG Question

“When am I going?” the no-nonsense Lancashire lad asked from his hospital bed. “Home?” I offered, buying time. His stare sharpened. No escape. This octogenarian wanted the blunt truth: when am I going to die?
The doctor had just left it at “Cancer, Mr. French”* The family had subsequently waltzed around every subject they could conjure up around his deathbed and those friends who had visited had shuffled or wisecracked before hurrying away.
Now, here was a dog-collar. Surely a man of the cloth would tell him the truth. The stare was now razor sharp. “God loves you” I offered. “Humph!” Fred groaned, “I’ll be at the back of the queue up there.”
I was halted by deep disappointment. Tears actually pricked. How had Fred listened to my preaching on the Good News of how God saves us for two decades and yet now wallowed in the Bad News on his death bed? Poor preaching? Possibly. Reluctance to face death. Fred did love life a lot.
I was so upset I didn’t progress beyond Bland platitudes. I tried to be professional; offered more holy thoughts but none had impact. I’d just finished my new novel on love, life and death and still I hovered like a bedside amateur before praying and leaving**.
That was visit No.1. Now, I’ve just been told to go back and do better. I was in church talking to God and his answer was crystal clear. This time, no pussyfooting; no dainty phrases; no dancing about the subject – ‘Just do your job!’
I’ll let you know how I get on. How would you have managed?
*Obviously, not the real name


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