GOD nudged me to return to my friend’s deathbed and do my job properly. I’d messed up during the first visit – click to read

Despite four decades as a sick-visiting vicar and even though I’d just finished a novel* on love, life and death, my ministry to Fred French had been woeful**. Now, back by his bed, I kept it simple.

Why, you may ask, bother a poor chap with only a few breaths left? Well, Fred was worried where he was going. He needed to know that Jesus had come so that his followers would know they were safe: that they had eternal life. Fred had the right to peace.

I had been shocked on my first visit to learn that Fred, after 20 years of my Good News teaching, trusted himself more than Jesus . He believed only himself and his own life could get him into heaven when he sadly sighed, “I’ll be at the back the queue up there.” (i.e. “My life won’t be good enough” – trust in self.)

“How about Good Friday, Fred?”

“Jesus died for sins on the cross,” he whispered.

“For your sins, Fred?”

“Hmm,” he smiled wistfully. I explained that we had no chance of paying the penalty for a lifetime of wrong thoughts, words and actions. If we didn’t allow Jesus to save us, then we were lost.

“What about Easter?”

“Resurrection…” Fred’s smile was brighter.

I tried to encourage the smile, “Jesus beat the grave for you and me. He said he was going to prepare a special place for those who loved him.” Another smile. “Trust him, Fred, he’s God.”

One of those smiles, I like to think, was his “yes” to Jesus. The truth is, I don’t know. Only God knows who eventually trusts him with life and death. God offers us faith to trust him but each of us must open our hearts and minds to receive that gift of faith.

I now have growing hope that I haven’t seen the last of Fred.


**not his real name.


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