In the beginning of February, my grandmother (on my father's side) had to be taken to the ER in the middle of the night. She had problems breathing and had to be put on a respirator. Among the various ailments detected by the doctors, she had suffered heart failure-the result of a clogged artery.
For more than a week, she lay comatose. The doctors had intubated her (put a tube in her throat to help her breathe) and put her on a respirator. She rested with the help of heavy medication to subdue her because previous visits to the hospital had resulted in some trouble from my grandmother. Basically, everyone feared that she'd pull the tube out because she had shown tendencies to be uncooperative during hospital visits in the past.
So, after more than a week without improvement the doctors decided that she would not live, or couldn't survive off the respirator; there would be no improvement. Before Laura and I had learned this, we had begun praying for her. Her condition was grave and we feared that she would die. Though a Roman Catholic who had gone to church on a semi-regular basis her entire life, we believed she had not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I debated traveling to New York to talk to her, but her less than conscious state made such a trip seem unlikely to bear fruit. So, we simply asked God to defy all medical logic and bring her back that I might speak to her (or, simply, that someone might speak to her and she might accept the Lord and go to heaven).
One Monday in February, the doctors convinced my father and his sister to remove the respirator. They made plans for the funeral, selecting Wednesday of that week for the wake and Thursday for the burial. I debated whether I should fly to New York, weighing the merits of leaving my 36 week pregnant wife behind to share the gospel with my grandmother.
It turned out the point was moot. Laura and I spent much of that day praying and our prayers were answered. My grandmother lived! Not only did she survive when everyone around her were waiting for her to die, but within days she was up and walking around. My father talked to her for 30-45 minutes a few days after the respirator had been removed.
Her sudden lucidity did not last, however. Shortly thereafter, dementia surfaced. Afraid that my time was short, I tried 6 days after my grandmother returned to the land of the conscious to call her, but she did not have a phone in her room. A few days later, she was transferred to a nursing home, where I intended to call her. Her mind kept slipping in and out of reality, though, and I decided to send her a letter in large print, instead.
Now, nowhere in the letter did I ask my grandmother if she wanted to accept Jesus as Savior. Instead, I simply presented the gospel in basic fashion and told her that if she believed in that she'd wind up spending eternity with Jesus in heaven. I don't know if the message got across, although she did have it read to her. My father and his sister put the letter up on her bulletin board in her room. Again, if the message got through to anyone, I know not, but hopefully she did hear the gospel spoken to her.
Anyway, this morning, she died. I never did speak to her and will always wonder if God wanted me to take that step. Did he even want me to travel to New York to present his message to my grandmother? I don't know. I do know that this morning, for the first time in perhaps two weeks, I prayed for her. I prayed that God would have mercy on her, forgiving her sins and taking this poor, downtrodden woman who has lived something of a sad life to heaven. The fact that she died on Easter may be a sign that she was, in fact, saved. Laura thinks so. I'm not sure, but I pray that it is so and that I will see her there when my time comes.
Whatever the case, please pray that I speak the Word more boldly in the future. I do grow tired of tiptoeing around the truth. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but one of power and of love. May I live that truth.