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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Our Life Is in His Hands

I spent all day Saturday with the family of a 78-year-old woman who went into surgery and didn't wake in the recovery room . After the surgeon reported the outcome of the surgery to the patient’s two sons, I prayed with them, and then I walked to the elevator. It was nearly 1:00 p.m., and I needed to go home.

But, as I was leaving, the surgeon and an O.R. nurse ran to meet me at the elevator. They asked me to accompany them to the family. The surgeon told the two sons their mother was failing quickly and would likely die within minutes. The four of us entered the recovery room, where the two sons saw their mother in an unresponsive state. A few minutes later the wife of one son and the fiancée of the other joined us.

Before long, the medical staff moved the mother back to her room and said her pulse was 6. One nurse said the patient would die within ten minutes. Oxygen enabled her to take labored, shallow breaths.

The patient lingered throughout the afternoon, and I waited with the family until late evening. The head nurse could not get a radial pulse, but when the patient's grandson, a firefighter, arrived, he found a pulse. He announced it was24. His dad, the patient’s son, is a police officer. He and his firefighter son had witnessed many deaths through the years and were certain their loved one was slipping away.

Shortly after 6 p.m., the surgeon entered the room, examined the patient briefly and announced, "She's gone. Her heart is beating a few beats per minute, but the heart is the last organ to shut down."

Later, I had prayer with the family and returned home. I called the hospital room at 9:30 p.m. and learned the patient’s condition had not changed. Her pulse remained near 20.

At 3:30 this morning, the patient woke up. Her son, the policeman, asked, "Mom, do you know who I am?"

"Sure” she replied.

"Do you know where you are?"


“You're in the hospital."

"Oh, yeah. I remember."

At 5:50 a.m., when the other son called his mother’s hospital room, his mother picked up the phone.

Upon hearing his mother’s hello, the son was amazed.

"Mom, they said you were dead!"

"Nobody asked me," she replied. "I've got to go; they're bringing my breakfast, and I'm starving."

I talked to this remarkable woman this afternoon. She sounds like her old self. She wanted to know all about this morning's church service.

Now here's the clincher. When the surgeon visited her this morning, she told him not to leave until she had sung a resurrection hymn for him. She sang every word of "He Is Risen."

She faces a rough road ahead, but what happened when she knocked on death's door proves we are in the Lord's hands and He alone schedules our homegoing.

Isn’t it good to know our moments, days, and years are in our risen Lord’s hands? We may knock on death’s door, but we will not walk through it until He bids us come.

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