(This blog post is a long overdue follow-up of my last post “Using Your Mind to Make the Blind See.”)
Just a Fact
At Jacob’s well the disciples were blinded by their prejudice against the Samaritans. However they did not see it as prejudice but rather an established fact of life. The Samaritans were slow, vile, and beyond help. When I was a pastor in Alberta Jesus took me to Jacob’s well.
The Set Up
I lived just outside Medicine Hat Alberta and pastored the churches in Medicine Hat and Brooks Alberta.. It was late September 2012. I was in Lacombe Alberta about 5 hours from Medicine Hat for conference meetings. On the morning I was to return, I received a text from Wade, one of my elders in the Medicine Hat church. “Dale is in the Calgary hospital. Lung cancer. Six months to live.”
He didn’t say so, but Wade wanted me to visit Dale. Calgary was ALMOST on my way home. The shortest route home skirted the eastern side of Calgary. Just to drive to the hospital in Calgary on my way home would consume and extra hour or more.
Dale lived in Medicine Hat and had never been to church in all his life. He had no semblance of a religious upbringing. I had visited Dale once during the christmas season of 2008. The church had given him a gift of money and commissioned me to take it to him. He met me in a parking lot in down town Medicine hat to receive the money. I had tried to visit him several times since but he always evaded me, “I am really busy right now, pastor. Another time.”
Dale had worked for Wade and his family for decades. He lived a rough, secular, godless life. He’s only connection with the church was Wade and his family, who urged him to attend church. As Dale worked for Wade he stole from Wade, and borrowed money on numerous occasions never paying it back. He was not an “A” interest. I was not inclined to take the extra time.
A Saving Grace
I had developed a habit of asking God each morning and in unusual circumstances what he would have me do. When I received the text, a quiet prayer ascended from my heart, “do You want me to visit Dale on my way home?” The answer came back strong and clear. “Yes.” As if to confirm the impression, just minutes later, George, my ministerial secretary, urged me to get a hotel that night instead of driving all the way back to Medicine Hat. I arranged for a hotel in Calgary.
In Dale’s Room
Having dropped my family off at a hotel near the hospital, I arrived in dale’s room after 9:00 PM. I knew not how to reach his heart. As I had searched for him in the labyrinth called Calgary Hospital I prayed, “Jesus, guide me. Help me. I don’t know what to do.” Soon I was seated across from Dale as he lay in bed. How would I minister to him?