Jerry was fifty-five years old when he enrolled in our outpatient Hospice program with end-stage lung cancer. Jerry was about six feet four inches tall, lean and muscular. Jerry worked as a heating and air conditioning technician most of his life. When I met Jerry he was oxygen dependent, homebound and as weak as a kitten. Jerry declared, “I was a picture of health until now. A month ago I was driving.” Jerry had declined chemotherapy and radiation stating, “They told me it would only give me a couple more months. So why be sicker?” He confidently affirmed, “I’m ready either way”. Jerry shared his “final goals” with me, “To share my testimony at church…to be baptized… and to make sure my wife will be alright financially after I’m gone.”
My initial impression of Jerry was that he was a social and somewhat emotional type of guy. His eyes even welled up with tears several times during my first visit. So I was surprised when his wife shared, “He’s not the man he was only a few months ago. He wouldn’t have given you the time of day. He didn’t like visitors and didn’t talk with anybody. He was a loner.” Jerry shook his head and grimaced in agreement. He then shared the story of his remarkable transformation.
Jerry recounted, “I was sitting in the chair one day and something just came to me and asked me, ‘Well Jerry, do you want to go to Heaven or to hell? Jerry, what are you going to do?’ I struggled with it for over a month. You know, it’s not as easy as just kneeling down and asking to be saved. My wife would be asleep on the couch and I would sneak out to the back bedroom to pray so she wouldn’t see me. But I could tell that it wasn’t working. Then a neighbor, who is a preacher, stopped to visit. He didn’t know if I was going to kick him out of the house or talk with him. Then a few days later I called my brother-in-law who is a preacher and he came over and prayed with me. I could feel something in my heart. He knew it too. When it gets a hold of me I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I can’t keep from crying now. I used to leave when the family came to visit, to be by myself. But it’s all-different now! Before, I wouldn’t have given you five minutes of my time, but now I’m happy when anybody visits. I’ll serve Him regardless; if He keeps me here or takes me home. I’m ready either way. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Jerry’s life is a testimony to God’s promises that, ‘…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But Jerry is right, “It’s not as easy as just kneeling down and asking to be saved.” Jesus explained, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (John 6:44). And sometimes we have to struggle with it for a while until our heart assumes the right position. King David wrote, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”(Psalm 34:18) When our minds are persuaded before our hearts are won, the result can be mere mental ascent instead of a genuine spiritual conversion.
If “something” just comes to you one day I hope you embrace it; that you struggle with it until your heart assumes the right position. I’m confident that you too will proclaim, “It’s all different now… I wouldn’t trade it for anything”.
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.
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center-Hospice, and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order Loren’s new book, “Straight Paths,” online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.