Time to Follow Him
A few weeks ago, I gave a devotion at the clinic about Today being the day of salvation. I explained that each week, we see at least one patient who has a terminal illness, and we have to give them the bad news that they have a disease that will most likely end their life. I asked the patients listening to the devotion to think about that possibility, and to think about the life that comes after this life is over, and where they want to spend it. Then I urged them not to delay in making a decision for Christ. Later that day, I saw a patient with advanced symptoms of AIDS. I sent her for an HIV test, which was positive, and I gave her the news that she may very well have a disease for which there is no cure. She took this news silently, and as I was counseling her on which steps to take next, I asked her if she was a Christian. She said no. I asked if she had given any consideration to becoming a Christian, and her reply blew me away. She said, “You know, the thing about being a Christian is, you have to have time. And I have no time. I am a single mom and I work every day to feed my kids, and I just don’t have time to become a Christian and serve God.” After my initial shock, I continued counseling with her and urged her to make time for God and for Christ in her life. She left to go get her medicines and some follow up confirmatory testing at another clinic, and I haven’t seen her since.
That evening, I thought about her “plight”. Often, I find myself making excuses for the poor because I know their lives are harder than mine. When employees are late to work, I remember how hard it is to cook breakfast on an open flame, get water from a distance source for bathing, and walk through mud or find public transit. When friends take things that I’ve left in my yard without asking me, I try to remember that in this culture if you’re not using it, people think it’s public property. So in this woman’s case, I tried to put myself in her position and see if I could justify what she was saying, about Christianity taking up her valuable time. I agreed with her on one point… it does take time to serve Christ, if you are going to be serious about it. Waking up before the kids get up to have private prayer time, going to church on Sunday and any other days of the week when special programs come up, responding to God’s urgings to help others instead of relax or play or get your own things done. Yes, it takes time to serve the Living God and the Savior of your soul. But isn’t it worth it? Didn’t He take time for us (Phil.2:5-11)? On the other hand, I’m not a single mom. I don’t know how hard it is to raise children without the help of a spouse. I’m not poor. I don’t know the agony of putting my kids to bed hungry. But I know many poor Christians, some of whom are single parents. I know an unmarried Haitian girl named Bethany, who has a small child that she supports, while at the same time finishing high school, taking care of other nieces and nephews, singing in choir, praying morning, noon and night, and worshipping God every Sunday. I knew a single woman who turned down two jobs in a country with 70% unemployment because she refused to disobey God and sleep with the boss when he told her that was all she had to do to get hired. I see many people who have lost jobs and homes and parents and children in the earthquake who still come to church every Sunday to worship God with all their might. And so, in the final analysis, I decided that this woman’s excuse was not valid, not at all.
Whether rich or poor, there are always excuses not to accept God’s gift of eternal life through Christ. “I’m too busy. I’ve got too many other commitments right now. It’s just not a good time for me. I couldn’t give it my all right now” and the list goes on. But in the end they are all just excuses, and won’t hold water on the day of judgment, when every one of us will have to give an account to our Maker of what we did with the life that He gave us and the gift of His Son that He offered us. The day after I met my HIV positive patient who didn’t have time for God, I had another terminally ill patient come into my office. She was dying of lung cancer, and I had to give her the bad news. After we cried together a bit, I asked her if she was a Christian. She said no. I asked her if anything was stopping her from giving her life to Christ now. She said, “Nothing”. She wanted to pray and accept Christ and begin going to church and serving Him. So we prayed together. I have the feeling I’ll see this woman again some day, even if she doesn’t live to keep her return appointment, because she understood the importance of accepting Christ… not tomorrow or when it’s convenient or when she had more time, but Today.