In Luke 23:32-34, 39-42 (NIV) This is where Jesus is hanging on the cross in the process of being crucified. Two other men both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
39-One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
40-But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41- We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42- Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
On October 28, 2000, it was a beautiful fall day. The sun was shining so bright and there was a nip of coolness in the air. It was a day that I was regularly scheduled to work but because of an appointment, I had taken this day off. But, God had other plans for me this day. I was finished with my appointment around 11:30 a.m. and it was lunchtime. I had gone home to eat lunch and while I was making my turkey sandwich, a thought came to my mind, “I should call work to see if they need me.” Then I thought, “Why would I want to do that, it is a beautiful day and I am off, I should just enjoy this beautiful fall day”. The first thought won, for some reason (hmmm), I was feeling guilty about not working, so I picked up the phone and called the staffing office to see if I was needed at work. Of course, I was secretly hoping that they would say no and I could go about my day enjoying the beautiful sunshine and cool temperatures. Shelly answered the phone and I told her who I was and I asked the question, “Do you need me? I am free for the rest of the day.” She said, “OH girl, the emergency room is so busy and there are 6 patients that needed to be triaged. If you could just come in and triage those six patients and that’s all you would have to do, that would help out so much.” Remember my position at this time was in the Intensive Care Unit and not in the ER, but I had, on occasion gone down to help out. So, I reluctantly agreed, but it was I who made that phone call and offered my services, so I really couldn’t change my mind now. Little did I know that this day would be one that I would never forget!
I quickly changed into my uniform and went to the ER. I found that there were 6 patients still waiting to be triaged. (Triaged is a word that the medical professionals use to determine the urgency and order that patients need to be seen in the ER.) As I was going in and out of the ER trying to find a bed in which to place these patients, I kept passing trauma room 2. I noticed in there was a prisoner from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in there. I could tell that he was a prisoner because of his off white attire and was accompanied by his 2 very own body guards dressed in drab gray. I really need to speak to someone at the state capital about those uniforms. Anyway, this prisoner that I will later find out, name was Eddie. Eddie was throwing up a lot of blood, basins full. I thought to myself, “thank God that I do not have to care for him because he is seriously ill.” Several times I passed up trauma 2 and Eddie was still throwing up blood, but the last time that I passed up this room there was now a large pool of blood on the floor . Eddie was what we call a 1 on 1 patient and that was the reason they needed an extra person because he required a nurse at his bedside constantly.
Well, I had finally finished triaging all 6 patients just as I had agreed and there was no one else to be triaged. It was now 3:15 pm and I was about to make my break and go home while the going was good. As I sat at the triage desk to pause for just a moment, my nurse manager appeared at the door.
I knew that this was not going to be good. She said, “Debby, there is a patient in trauma 2, I want you to take report from Bami, take this patient up to the ICU and you can be his 1 on 1 nurse up there.” They were unable to transfer this patient to UTMB where they have a prison hospital and he was taking up too much time in the ER and tying up the ER nurses. I just took a deep sigh, thought to myself, “Ok Lord, I can do this.” So I agreed and headed off down that long hallway, staring into Trauma 2 the whole time, convincing myself that I was capable of taking care of this very ill person. I passed up the two guards dressed in their drab gray uniforms, one of the guards was very pleasant and joking around, while the other sat there like his face would break if he smiled.
I stood at the entrance to trauma 2, because he was continuing to throw up blood, I began to don my new attire, which consisted of a plastic apron, shoe covers, and gloves. I thought to myself, how could one person throw up so much blood and still be alive? Bami began to give me report and as I was listening to her, I also began to take in visual data as well. I scanned the room from my left to my right. On my left, I saw a deep sink filled with approximately 5 basins full of blood. As I scanned to the right there were two “environmental technicians” also in the room and they were attempting to mop up that pool of blood that I had seen earlier but instead they were smearing the blood from one side to the other. Everything seemed as though it was going in slow motion, before my eyes went any further to the right, I wondered what the patient looks like? So I finally laid my eyes on Eddie. He was sitting up on his stretcher, he was pale and looked like he didn’t feel very well but I thought he looked considerably good compared to what I had imagined he would look like. He had IV fluids running in each arm along with blood and other blood products to keep him alive until they could figure out what else could be done to stop this bleeding. Bami introduced me to Eddie and then I began to wonder how Eddie was physically handling the blood loss, so I looked at Eddie’s blood pressure to see how that was doing. Naturally, his blood pressure was low but I was surprised that he had a blood pressure at all. His pressure was 80/50. I glanced at the cardiac monitor to find that he did have a heart beat, it was fast at 125 but it did not show any signs that his heart was about to give out or that it lacked in oxygen that is carried by the red blood cells to the heart. I was surprised since all of his red blood cells were on the floor and in the basins in the sink.
After taking in all this data, I got to work. I was very busy with changing IV’s, etc… I honestly cannot tell you exactly what I was doing that kept me so busy, but I was very busy. As I was in the process of being busy, I heard Eddie say in a low tone, “am I going to die to day?” Then he changed his question into a statement and said, “I am going to die today.” My exact thought was, “yeeeaah, buddy.” After a few more minutes had passed, I felt a tapping on my right shoulder. I turned around to see who was tapping on my shoulder but there was no one there. Then, I heard a very distinct audible voice telling me to ask Eddie if he was saved. Now, I did and still do attend church every Sunday that I am not scheduled to work, but when it comes to ministering to or witnessing to someone, that was just not my forte because I was just a baby in the walk with Christ and felt that I was unqualified to do any witnessing. So, I tell this voice, “in a minute, I’m very busy right now.” Then, I felt this tapping on my shoulder again, this time just a little stronger than the last and I heard this voice very sternly tell me again, “Ask Eddie if he is saved.” At this point, I realized sort of what was going on here, this was the Holy Spirit giving me a job to do, so I agreed. I stopped what I was doing and went to Eddie’s left side, placed my hand on his head and I asked, “Eddie, do you believed in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” That is all that I knew to say. He looked at me, weakly nodded his head and said, “Yes.” I had chills run throughout my entire body because I realized what was happening. I was just in awe of what God was doing here, for whatever reason. But this was a common criminal, a prisoner, so why would God care about him? The very next thought that came into my head was, “uh oh.” What was my co-worker, Bami, going to think about witnessing in the work place? So, I slowly looked up to see the reaction on Bami’s face. She stood there with her eyes wide open, her jaw dropped and she said, “let us pray!” I was so relieved and excited at the same time. We all held hands, while Bami led us in the Lord’s Prayer. It was just a feeling that was really indescribable. As Bami and I said our Amen, I noticed that Eddie’s lips kept on moving. He kept his eyes closed and his lips were saying something silently that only he and God could hear. Bami and I had to get back to work trying to save his life when in fact; we had just saved his soul. After a few moments, I heard Eddie say, “amen”, and I knew that he had just gotten things right with God. Whatever crime it was that he had committed that placed him in prison, he was now forgiven. WOW! Isn’t that awesome!
I was back to being busy again and then I felt that tapping on my shoulder again. This time this voice told me to give Eddie a message. I immediately stopped what I was doing and positioned myself at Eddie’s side. I placed my hand on his head and I repeated the words that were told to me by this voice. I said to Eddie, “Eddie, if you die today, you will be a free man. Your sentence is served.” It wasn’t until after I spoke those words that I truly understood what they meant. Again, I was struck with awe. He was truly going to be a free man – set free from the chains of hell. Psalms 146:7,
“He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry
The Lord sets prisoners free.”
Let the wicked forsake his way
And the evil man his thoughts
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
And to our God, for he will freely pardon.”
Those words did not come from me, they came from God! I realized the power that those words had. I then really realized that it doesn’t matter to God who you are or what sin you have committed, everyone is a child of God. All you have to do is believed that Jesus is the Christ and he did truly die on the cross so that all of our sins could be forgiven. Through faith and mercy, we are all forgiven, even prisoners.
I had decided at that point that I was going to remain with Eddie until his death. I could not leave him to die alone in that hospital bed surrounded by prison guards or nurses that could not grasp the true power of God.
It was now about 5:15 pm and it was time to take Eddie up to the ICU bed. It took 4 of us to take him, with all his IV’s oxygen, etc.. Then I had realized that since Eddie had been saved, he was no longer throwing up blood. For just a few moments, I thought that maybe he might live, but I knew what his destiny truly was…….it was Heaven, to live in the presence of God forever. As we began to roll the stretcher out of the trauma room, he told me that he couldn’t see. I assured him that I was there with him and that I would let him know everything that was going on. I then looked at his blood pressure, it was 50/20. He did not have enough blood pressure to supply his eyes the oxygen required, therefore, he could not see. He then told me that he was cold, I told him that I would get him some warm blankets when I got him upstairs, even though I knew again, that he was cold because he did not have sufficient blood flow. We finally got him into his comfortable bed, well at least more comfortable than an ER stretcher; he looked so peaceful, and comfortable. He closed his eyes to get some rest and for the first time, he was able to lay his head flat. I covered him with some warm blankets and continued to give him the blood and blood products that he needed to help his blood clot so that he would stop the internal bleeding. Every few minutes, I would call his name, “Eddie?” He wouldn’t open his eyes but he would respond with, “yea”, and I would ask, “are you still with me?” and he would answer with another, “yep.”
It was 6:15 pm, and I finally got to a place where I could stop and do some documentation of everything that had transpired in the last 3 hours.
Before I went to do my charting, I once again called out Eddie’s name. This time there was no answer. His blood pressure had not changed even with all the blood that I had given him. I knew that the time was near and he had slipped into a coma because his blood pressure was to low to supply the brain with the needed oxygen. Everything was quiet, so I sat down to start my charting even though I had no idea where to start because so much had happened in the last 3 hours. From where I was sitting, I could see into Eddie’s room and I could monitor his cardiac rhythm. I plunged into my charting trying very hard to get everything in order in which it happened. I had little bits and pieces of paper with scribbled notes everywhere. It was 7:15pm, when the cardiac monitor alarmed in Eddie’s room. I could see that his heart rate had dropped rapidly into the 50’s, and I knew it was time. I jumped up out of my chair and ran into his room and grabbed his hand and told him that I was there with him. Then the cardiac monitor went into a straight line. Just as that happened, I felt this presence behind me and to my left. I felt like someone was there, some one ten feet tall. I turned my head over my left shoulder to see who was standing there but there was no one there that I could see. But they were there, I do not know exactly who was there but I felt that it was Jesus himself; ready to take Eddie with him. I felt the need to drop to my knees in the presence of this Holy Spirit. Instead, I just bowed my head on the side rails of Eddie’s bed and I could feel Eddie’s soul leave his body and pass over the left side of me to this Holy Spirit that was behind me and to my left. My breath was taken away from me and I could only stand there and say, “OH, MY GOD!” I kept wandering what that was all about and what or who was in the room with me. Was that Jesus? I will not truly know the answer to that question until I, myself, stand before God and can finally ask Him, what that was really all on about that October day.
Luke 23: 43 – Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”