Midwest, USA – 1978
The phone rang and I answered. My dear friend Ellen was calling who lived an hour away. “Pam, One of my former coworkers is a patient at your hospital and I was wondering if you would visit him and share the gospel with him? For many years he was the chauffeur for one of the wealthiest men in the city, and is now retired. He seldom has any visitors.” “Sure! I would love to visit him!” I replied.
The next day after I finished work, I knocked on Jack’s hospital room door and entered. He was a thin elderly man who stared at me with his big sad brown eyes. I introduced myself and sat in the chair beside his bed. I told him a little about myself, and then he told me more of his story. He had smoked all of his adult life and now had decreased circulation to both his legs which caused him severe pain (peripheral vascular disease-PVD). He had been in and out of the hospital several times the past year as they did surgery to implant artificial arteries to bypass the clogged ones to try to get more blood to his feet. Sadly, they weren’t working very well and he was still having a significant amount of pain from the lack of blood and oxygen to his legs.
I shared with Jack how much God loved him that He had died on the cross for his sins, rose again, and lived today. Jesus Christ wanted Jack receive him as his personal Savior. I asked Jack if I could read some Bible verses to him, and he asked me to please do so. I then read the following verses,
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, That whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God– not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
I then prayed for Jack. As I said goodby, he gripped my hand and asked me to please visit him again because he wanted to hear more from the Bible.
I continued to visit Jack after work every day and often after he went home. One afternoon, after we finished studying the Bible at his kitchen table, I asked him if he would like to receive Jesus Christ as his personal Savior? He said he would and he was ready. He bowed his head and prayed out loud, “Dear Lord, I come to you now as a sinner. Thank You for dying on the cross for me to pay the price for my sins. Thank You that You are the Son of God. I now receive You as my very own Savior! Amen.” He looked up and was smiling widely. His big brown eyes were no longer sad, but beaming with joy!
The road ahead of Jack was not an easy one as he went through numerous surgeries over the next months and much pain. The grafts were not successful and they had to amputate his left leg below the knee. His right leg continued to be very painful and his doctor told him that he needed to also have it amputated. The day before his second amputation, we were reading the Bible together and he said to me. “Pam, I read this morning how Jesus Christ said to the Father before He went to the cross, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Matthew 26:39. That is what I told God today also. “Thy will be done!” Jack said with steely determination and tears in his eyes. Jack’s growth in the Lord was a great blessing to me to behold!
Several months after Jack’s second leg amputation healed, he received two new prostheses (artificial legs). I visited him in his apartment a few days before Christmas, and he said, “I have a surprise for you!” He wheeled himself into his bedroom. After about 15 minutes he WALKED out of his bedroom on his two new legs while leaning on his walker. He was grinning from ear to ear as my tears of joy flowed.
Reflection – 2014
The Lord took Jack home to heaven several years later. It was truly wonderful to watch how the Lord transformed him from an angry bitter man into one full of joy and peace as he grew in God’s grace. The memory of his sweet testimony of submitting his life to God while going through very difficult trials with his health continues to bless me today.
Since then, I have worked with quite a few patients who have amputations. Those who have done the best in handling the trauma are those who trust in the Lord for the grace and strength to adjust to this major change in their life. Others who do not trust in the Lord usually become very bitter and say, “Why me?” Only Christ can transform us when we receive Him as personal Savior!
Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
II Corinthians 5:17