"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Thirteen years ago, I lay in a hospital bed dying from a serious stomach infection. After waiting too too long to go to the doctor, my wife was told how important the next few days were going to be in my recovery.
I didn't know what she knew. Very early one morning, my surgeon came by to see me. He was a world-class surgeon who let his senior resident make his early morning rounds. The fact he was in my room startled me. When I asked my wife if I was dying, I will never forget her answer. She did not say no. Instead, she said, "You're very sick, Mike". I knew then I was in trouble.
Knowing the infection and pain medication could make me unable to make any decisions about my health, I asked my wife to make sure either she or my father-in-law, Everett, were at my bedside should a decision need to be made for me.
For the next 12 days, I laid in a hospital bed unable to eat or even have a sip of water. I can remember my wife giving me small chards of ice for my parched tongue. And I remember being told a lot of people were praying for me.
My pastor visited me. It meant a lot since the hospital was two hours from the church. But it was the visit from another pastor that taught me an invaluable lesson about salvation.
There he stood at the foot of my bed preaching as if there was a congregation of hundreds seated in front of him. I was drifting in and out of consciousness finding it very hard to stay awake. But it didn't stop him or dilute his sermon. He preached a sermon on salvation as hard as any Sunday he stood in a pulpit.
I have thought about that day hundreds of times. He taught me a couple of valuable lessons about salvation, lessons we should take into our own relationships with friends and family.
1. Salvation is personal. Jesus speaks to hearts one at a time and can reach anybody, anywhere.
2. People who go to church and look like they're saved may not be. Tares look just like wheat. Don't make the fatal mistake of believing that someone is saved because they go to church with you. Remember, only God knows the heart.
3. We should never been ashamed to tell others about Christ. I was already saved, but the pastor at my bedside was taking no chances.
4. People don’t go to heaven because they die. To this pastor, that hospital room represented his last opportunity to make sure I knew where I going if I did not leave that hospital room alive.
So as crazy as it might sound for a pastor to be preaching at the foot of my bed, I could not be more grateful that there are men and women of God who have the call to share the gospel. If it seems foolish to you, think about the bible verse which I used to lead the column: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God". (1 Corinthians 1:18)