Some years ago now, I was called out to serve Communion to a church member who was unable to attend services at the church I served. She had bone cancer; her name was Marilyn. After we discussed her grave condition and enjoyed the fellowship over the elements of Communion she made this remark: “Pastor Mike, I feel sorry for people who don’t have what I have!”
“Yes,” I said, “You have hope in knowing Christ and others don’t know Him.”
“No, that’s not what I mean; it’s the cancer. I know how much I need Jesus every day; others don’t know how much they really do need Him.”
I left that day, stricken by her bold and brave words. Soon, I’ll be doing Marilyn’s funeral and I will share that amazing insight at her memorial services. I wrote them down and kept them by my phone, waiting for the call that she had passed away. Weeks later, I visited her at a low budget rehab facility where she was nursing a broken leg, the one with the cancer. She had been at the hospital, stopped for lunch in their McDonald’s and caught her wheelchair in a floor drain, throwing her out on the floor. That broken leg on top of everything else seemed cruel.
Marilyn’s remark was: “Wasn’t that a blessing, Pastor, that I broke my leg right there; I was already at the hospital!
More time and more visits and Marilyn each time was so caring and encouraging to me and to all those in the nursing facility. She asked about my wife and children and grandchildren, then said: “Does my head look terrible up here where they took out part of my skull a few weeks ago?” Her hair had grown in to cover the scars already . . . “I have a steel plate in there now.” Marilyn was radiant, full of joy and peace as usual though nearing her departure from this world and her reception in Heaven.
Each time I went to see her, I shared how much her example meant to those who heard me tell her story. One winter night I told her story to a weary missionary near the China border in Kazakhstan. It inspired hope in everyone who could grasp the meaning of Marilyn’s insight and perspective.
After a couple of years of joy through suffering, Marilyn did pass away and I did her services and I shared her story with those who attended. I have also shared her story with you to encourage you to be healthy like Marilyn was. Do we realize how much we really do need Jesus in our lives?