From Buddha to Jesus
I did not really want to take this particular case. Paul lived a few miles out of town and the extra driving out to his house meant I had to get up an hour earlier each morning to get over to his house, and then again I got home an hour later each evening because I had to get over to his house again in the evening. Paul was dying. He was 92 years old and was just wearing out. Thin as a rail and suffering from dry gangrene in his toes from bad circulation, he needed help to get up in the morning, bathed, sit on the john, dressed, have his breakfast made, and then help walk to his favorite chair where he would sit all day long looking out the window. In the evening after making the rounds to all my other patients, I would usually get back to Paul's house as the sun set in the west. When Paul's daughter initially called me and was filling me in on Paul's background and medical history, she told me that Paul's religion was "sort of Hindu". He was a vegetarian and hardly ate enough to feed a bird. Over the days and weeks, Paul and I came to be good friends. Seven days a week I got him up before sunrise every day, and then put him back to bed every evening.
I asked Paul about his religion one day after about the first week. He said that he had come to such a point of "self realization" that he could look directly into the sun without damaging his eyes. I said nothing in response and he said no more.
That evening was cold and the house was like ice. I picked Paul up from his wheelchair and put him down in the bed and covered him with a mountain of blankets. He looked like two eyes and a nose sticking out of a cocoon. I said to Paul, "How about if I said a prayer with you before I go?". To my surprise, he said, "Yes, say a prayer." Well, I must have prayed for at least 5 minutes giving the quickest prayer sermon ever prayed on the love of God. I gave thanks and blessed God for everything to do with the meaning and hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and covered everything from the fall of Adam, the Cross of Calvary, the forgiveness of sin, the second coming of Christ, and finished with the resurrection of the dead. Giving God thanks for all this blessed truth that we find in the New Testament, I finished with an enthusiastic, "Amen!". After the prayer, Paul said thanks for the nice prayer and that the Bible was ok, but the Hindu scriptures were much older and probably much closer to the truth. I went home that night kind of doubtful that Paul had been very blessed by my praying with him. He seemed set in his old beliefs.
Then on the following night, after putting Paul into his "cocoon" to keep him warm, I started to leave and turn off the light. I was surprised when Paul said, "Hey Bill, aren't you going to pray before you leave?" I said, "Sure thing Paul. I wasn't sure if you would still want me to pray tonight." "Oh, yes.", he replied from under his pile of blankets. I prayed the same prayer again only this time I added even a few more things that I wanted to be sure to include that I may have left out on the previous night. Tonight I noticed something different though. After I said my hearty "Amen", I noticed that Paul also said a quiet,"Amen".
Well the days and weeks passed. Each night I would pray with Paul, practically giving an entire Bible study in every prayer. His mind was razor sharp, but his body was starting to give in to the dry gangrene in his toes and he was getting weaker each day. He was scheduled for surgery to have his foot amputated. The night before the surgery Paul as anxious. He did not want to have the operation, but he had no other choice. That evening I prayed with him the same prayer of thanks giving and repentance and praise for the gift of Jesus who died for our sins that we might have eternal life. Paul said his quiet amen and went off to sleep while I turned off the lights and locked the cold dark old house that had been his home for 70 years. As I was closing the front door, I took one final look around the room at the old family pictures on the wall, the colorful hand-made quilt on the sofa, and a house full of someone's precious family memories. Then I locked the front door and stepped out into the cold night air.
The paramedics and his daughter would be taking Paul to the hospital in the morning, so I would not be coming back in the morning to get him up and ready for surgery. He would be going to a nursing home to recover and then the daughter was to call me when he was to come home again.
I did not hear from her for about two weeks. But then I got a phone call during lunch. It was Paul's daughter. She had called to tell me that Paul had died that morning and that he had given her a message to give me before he died. He whispered in her ear, "Tell Bill, I believe in the New Testament now. And tell him,.. thanks."
So long good buddy. I'll see you standing by the throne of God singing, Amazing grace, how sweet the thought. That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found. Was blind but now I see.
Bill Diehl, Lic. Voc. Nurse