SHE WAS ONLY 21 years old when the accident occurred. The year was 1982. I got a call from my friend Frank, who was studying at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky. He was too far away to help, so he asked me to go to Delta Hospital in Antioch, California to visit his cousin Shelly.
SHELLY had been out in the hill country, partying with friends. Her pickup truck flipped on a hill. Shelly’s neck was broken. When I arrived at the hospital, her head was stabilized in a “halo”, a device that prevents any movement of the head or neck. She had a tracheal intubation and she was on a ventilator.
SHE KNEW that her situation was dire. She was awake and aware. She listened intently as I shared my own story of my downward-spiraling life and how Jesus Christ had rescued me from my own self-destructive ways. In the first few days after her accident, she was able to hold a conversation, although the breathing tube was a hindrance. We talked about the fragility of this life and about the life to come.
“WHEN A MAN KNOWS he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Samuel Johnson made that amusing-but-true observation back in the late eighteenth century. Shelly was given the gift of an interlude of time in which to get things right with her Creator. Nobody can count on that luxury.
WHEN I SHARED THE HOPE of eternal life, the Hope that Jesus offers everyone, Shelly eagerly accepted His invitation. I visited her every day for the nine days it took for her to die. Her last words to me were a whisper: “He will see me through.”
And He did see her through. As the Apostle Paul writes, “Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting? Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
JESUS WAS BORN to this earth for a purpose. In Christianese, we call it the “Gospel Story” The word “Gospel” means Good News, and it is! Check it out at a church near you. I wish you a great CHRISTmas.