Rewind to April 2009. My parents were living in a little town called Wentzville, MO.
Yep, the 'show me' state. The only thing I 'showed' them during my brief visits was what a thick southern-accent sounded like.
A few years ago my grandfather had become very ill. Around Christmas of 2008, he began having a pain in his leg. My grandmother kept ice on it and ensured he was getting plenty of rest, but the pain just wouldn't go away. That's when the doctor came back with the chilling news. Cancer. It began to spread and left him bound to a hospital bed in the months to follow.
My grandfather had been a Baptist preacher since I was born and I admired him. I looked to him on many occasions for advice; not only in everyday life, but in my spiritual life. He had studied the bible for so many years, preached in the pulpit and baptized people of all ages in muddy creeks. If I was going to ask anyone about God, it was going to be him. I can remember asking him questions like, "how will I know when I'm saved?"...or "how do you think God feels about 'X'". From someone that had preached & pastored churches most all of his life, one would expect an in depth, complex, theological answer, but more often than not, he would reply that I would just "feel it"...that I would "just know in my heart". Those were powerful statements, but I didn't realize it at the time. You see, God speaks to our hearts; not our minds. Sometimes, His voice rings out as loud as a church bell; but often times, it's nothing more than a whisper and we have to listen very closely to hear it.
The doctors that had been caring for my grandfather told some of the family that his time was limited. My grandmother began making phone calls to family telling them that they needed to come see him. There wouldn't be many days left. I can remember the last few days of his life. I took my son to see his great-grandfather, but as I approached the hospital bed, I quickly made my son go back outside of the room. I didn't want him to see his great-grandfather in this condition. I didn't want that to be his last memory of him.
My parents had thrown some things into a suitcase and were rushing to get to Atlanta. It was an eight hour drive. They were driving down the interstate, when my dad was briefly distracted. He was traveling between 70-80 MPH. Seconds later, he was startled by my mom's screams. As he looked up, there was a car. At a dead stop. You can guess what happened next. They crashed. Shrieking brakes, shattered glass and screams that turned to dead silence. My parents were transported to the local hospital for their injuries. Luckily, there were no fatalities.
My dad never got to see his father. My mom never got to see her father-in-law. My grandfather passed away before they were able to get to Atlanta. Maybe God didn't want my dad to see his dad in that condition. I'm not sure exactly what God's reasons were. Perhaps, we'll know one day.
In those final moments, it didn't matter how many doctors or nurses were in the room. It didn't matter how much morphine was being pumped into his veins. It didn't matter how many family members were standing by the bedside. It didn't matter how many machines were attached. What matters is what he preached about his whole life - God. He was the one in the room. He was the one standing by his bedside. He was the one feeding the real medicine into his blood. He was the real doctor.
This past Wednesday I received a text from my mom stating that my dad was in an ambulance on his way to the emergency room. I was at my office and had no idea what had happened. I didn't know if this was a life or death situation. I panicked. I jumped in my car and was speeding down the interstate. I recalled what had happened to my parents in 2009. I hit my brakes and slowed down. "God's got this", I told myself. What was I going to do when I got there anyway? I'm not the doctor and I certainly wouldn't be able to 'fix' anything. So, I finally made it to the hospital. It wasn't life-threatening, thank goodness. I spent about 4 hours Wednesday night in the E.R. I was surrounded by people with all types of ailments; some life-threatening. Some of those same people I saw may have taken their final breath that night or the next morning. There were people from all walks of life. There were people from different countries, different races, and different backgrounds. I heard doctors and nurses consoling people and their families. I watched as they hooked up I.V.'s, monitored each person's vital signs and provided medicines. One of the nurses even told my dad that he could press the "little red button" if he needed someone and they would be there.
In all of these situations, God has been there. He was there when all of these emergencies occurred. He was there in the E.R. He was there beside each hospital bed. No matter the race or the creed, he knew everyone. He knew every name. He knew every face. Though not all knew Him. Some may have met him for the first time in the E.R. and in their hospital bed. Some, undoubtedly, sought him with their last breath. Some didn't hear him because they didn't listen to what their heart had been telling them throughout their lives. Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Him. But, He was there.
If you've read this far, you're obviously still on your journey (well, unless I've bored you to death). But, someday your journey will end. It won't matter how many doctors and nurses are by your bedside. It won't matter how many family members are standing beside you. It won't matter how much morphine they pump into your veins. It won't matter how many times you frantically press that "little red button". There will only be one person that can help you.
My grandfather spent his whole life begging people to be ready to meet Him. I'm glad that I listened to his advice and "followed my heart" 18 years ago when I was saved. No matter how many times I screw up in this life, I won't have to worry in that final moment. Whether I leave here at 33 or 83, it won't matter.
What you see around you is only temporary. This isn't our home.
Seek Him now while He may be found. Then, in your final moment, you can rest assured that the real doctor is in the house.
Isaiah 55:6 - "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near."