I spend time with an eighty-something man who is bedridden and not very communicative, at least not until yesterday. Until yesterday, I haven’t even been sure how well his mind is working. I hadn’t had a conversation with him that lasted more than one sentence with a yes or no answer. Ask him an open-ended question and most of the time he will not respond. His eyes are closed about 80% of the time giving the impression that he is trapped inside his shell. That’s why I was pretty shocked yesterday when he suggested I sit down next to the bed, clearly indicating he had something in mind. That initiated a 15-minute conversation that began with him saying he was worried about me.
He was worried about me? Wait a minute. Who’s the one who can’t get out of bed here? I would have been taken aback by anyone telling me they were worried about me much less someone in his condition. I can count on one finger the number of people who are worried about me: my wife.
Then he told me why. “I’m worried about what you are going to do when I am gone.”
This is a man who has made millions, who can now barely move, who talks in a whisper, who doesn’t have many friends, or the friends he had have faded into the background, finding it too painful to see him like this. I’ve wondered what he does day in and day out lying there with nothing to do but think. What does he think about, or has he shut down his brain entirely? Now I know he hasn’t. He’s thinking; and one of the things he’s thinking about is what’s going to happen to me when he dies. Unbelievable. Who cares about me? Most people think about what’s going to happen to them when they die, not someone else. And here I thought I was caring for him.
As to his faith, he has none, at least none in God. He has lived most of his life as if Jesus hadn’t been born. Maybe that’s why he isn’t thinking about what’s going to happen to him when he dies because he doesn’t know. So instead, he’s thinking about what’s going to happen to me after he goes. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a friend that cared about that. I’m just a little overwhelmed.
Lord, please have mercy on this man who is worried more about what will happen to me when he is gone, than he is about what will happen to him. I so much want him to know that you are making a place for him with you in heaven. You are, aren’t you? Please tell me you are.