The Cab Ride
by Kent Nerburn
Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn't realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep.
But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.
I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers,or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.
When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked.
"Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. "It's nothing", I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated". "Oh, you're such a good boy", she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me and address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?" "It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly. "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice".
I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now."
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse."Nothing," I said. "You have to make a living," she answered. "There are other passengers," I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you." I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware--beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID, BUT THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.
It was one of the hottest days of the dry season. We had not seen rain in almost a month. The crops were dying. Cows had stopped giving milk. The creeks and streams were long gone back into the earth. It was a dry season that would bankrupt several farmers before it was through. Every day, my husband and his brothers would go about the arduous process of trying to get water to the fields. Lately this process had involved taking a truck to the local water rendering plant and filling it up with water. But severe rationing had cut everyone off. If we didn't see some rain soon... we would lose everything.
It was on this day that I learned the true lesson of sharing and witnessed the only miracle I have seen with my own eyes. I was in the kitchen making lunch for my husband and his brothers when I saw my six-year old son, Billy, walking toward the woods. He wasn't walking with the usual carefree abandon of a youth but with a serious purpose. I could only see his back. He was obviously walking with a great effort...trying to be as still as possible.
Minutes after he disappeared into the woods, he came running out again, toward the house. I went back to making sandwiches, thinking that whatever task he had been doing was completed. Moments later, however, he was once again walking in that slow purposeful stride toward the woods. This activity went on for an hour. He would walk carefully to the woods, run back to the house. Finally I couldn't take it any longer and I crept out of the house and followed him on his journey (being very careful not to be seen...as he was obviously doing important work and didn't need his Mommy checking up on him).
He was cupping both hands in front of him as he walked, being very careful not to spill the water he held in them...maybe two or three tablespoons were held in his tiny hands. I sneaked close as he went into the woods. Branches and thorns slapped his little face but he did not try to avoid them. He had a much higher purpose. As I leaned in to spy on him, I saw the most amazing site. Several large deer loomed in front of him. Billy walked right up to them. I almost screamed for him to get away. A huge buck with elaborate antlers was dangerously close. But the buck did not threaten him...he didn't even move as Billy knelt down. And I saw a tiny fawn laying on the ground, obviously suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion, lift its head with great effort to lap up the water cupped in my beautiful boy's hand.
When the water was gone, Billy jumped up to run back to the house and I hid behind a tree. I followed him back to the house, to a spigot that we had shut off the water to. Billy opened it all the way up and a small trickle began to creep out. He knelt there, letting the drip, drip slowly fill up his makeshift "cup," as the sun beat down on his little back. And it came clear to me. The trouble he had gotten into for playing with the hose the week before. The lecture he had received about the importance of not wasting water. The reason he didn't ask me to help him.
It took almost twenty minutes for the drops to fill his hands. When he stood up and began the trek back, I was there in front of him. His little eyes just filled with tears. "I'm not wasting," was all he said.
As he began his walk, I joined him...with a small pot of water from the kitchen. I let him tend to the fawn. I stayed away. It was his job.
I stood on the edge of the woods watching the most beautiful heart I have ever known working so hard to save another life. As the tears that rolled down my face began to hit the ground, they were suddenly joined by other drops...and more drops...and more. I looked up at the sky. It was as if God, himself, was weeping with pride.
Some will probably say that this was all just a huge coincidence. That miracles don't really exist. That it was bound to rain sometime. And I can't argue with that...I'm not going to try. All I can say is that the rain that came that day saved our farm...just like the actions of one little boy saved another.
I don't know if anyone will read this...but I had to send it.... To honor the memory of my beautiful Billy, who was taken from me much too soon.... but not before showing me the true face of God, in a little sunburned body.
Last week I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, "God is good. God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen."
Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice-cream! Why, I never! "Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?" As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer." "Really?" my son asked. "Cross my heart."
Then in a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."
Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and without a word walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes, and my soul is good already.
Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.
One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of the other students."
Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here." Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?
As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him.
"I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris' face burned red. She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now please take your seat."
Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded enthusiastically-all except for Jeremy. He listened intently. His eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.
That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.
The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life," she said. "When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here." A small girl in the first row waved her arm. "That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that's new life, too." Little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine." Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, "My daddy helped me," he beamed.
Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. Surely it must be Jeremy's she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?" Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty." He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty, too."
Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you know why the tomb was empty?" "Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up."
The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the schoolyard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.
Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket....... all of them empty.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
Epilogue. . . .There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy. "Today is a gift, that's why it is called the PRESENT".
A few years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100 yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy. They slowed down and looked back. They all turned around and went back. Every one of them. One girl with Down's Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said,"This will make it better." All nine linked arms and walked across the finish line together. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story. Why? Because deep down we know one thing. What matters most in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What truly matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.
By Peggy Porter
My son Gilbert was eight years old and had been in Cub Scouts only a short time. During one of his meetings he was handed a sheet of paper, a block of wood and four tires and told to return home and give all to"dad."
That was not an easy task for Gilbert to do. Dad was not receptive to doing things with his son. But Gilbert tried. Dad read the paper and scoffed at the idea of making a pine wood derby car with his young,eager son. The block of wood remained untouched as the weeks passed.
Finally, mom stepped in to see if I could figure this all out. The project began. Having no carpentry skills, I decided it would be best if I simply read the directions and let Gilbert do the work. And he did. I read aloud the measurements, the rules of what we could do and what we couldn't do. Within days his block of wood was turning into a pinewood derby car.A little lopsided, but looking great (at least through the eyes of mom).
Gilbert had not seen any of the other kids cars and was feeling pretty proud of his "Blue Lightning," the pride that comes with knowing you did something on your own.
Then the big night came. With his blue pinewood derby in his hand and pride in his heart we headed to the big race. Once there my little one's pride turned to humility. Gilbert's car was obviously the only car made entirely on his own. All the other cars were a father-son partnership, with cool paint jobs and sleek body styles made for speed.
A few of the boys giggled as they looked at Gilbert's, lopsided, wobbly, unattractive vehicle. To add to the humility Gilbert was the only boy without a man at his side. A couple of the boys who were from single parent homes at least had an uncle or grandfather by their side, Gilbert had "mom."
As the race began it was done in elimination fashion. You kept racing as long as you were the winner. One by one the cars raced down the finely sanded ramp. Finally it was between Gilbert and the sleekest, fastest looking car there. As the last race was about to begin, my wide eyed, shy eight year old ask if they could stop the race for a minute, because he wanted to pray.
The race stopped.
Gilbert hit his knees clutching his funny looking block of wood between his hands. With a wrinkled brow he set to converse with his Father. He prayed in earnest for a very long minute and a half. Then he stood, smile on his face and announced, 'Okay, I am ready."
As the crowd cheered, a boy named Tommy stood with his father as their car sped down the ramp. Gilbert stood with his Father within his heart and watched his block of wood wobble down the ramp with surprisingly great speed and rushed over the finish line a fraction of a second before Tommy's car.
Gilbert leaped into the air with a loud "Thank you" as the crowd roared in approval. The Scout Master came up to Gilbert with microphone in hand and asked the obvious question, "So you prayed to win, huh,Gilbert?" To which my young son answered, "Oh, no sir. That wouldn't be fair to ask God to help you beat someone else. I just asked Him to make it so I don't cry when I lose."
Children seem to have a wisdom far beyond us. Gilbert didn't ask God to win the race, he didn't ask God to fix the out come, Gilbert asked God to give him strength in the outcome. When Gilbert first saw the other cars he didn't cry out to God, "No fair, they had a fathers help." No, he went to his Father for strength. Perhaps we spend too much of our prayer time asking God to rig the race, to make us number one, or too much time asking God to remove us from the struggle, when we should be seeking God's strength to get through the struggle. "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippines 4:13
Gilbert's simple prayer spoke volumes to those present that night. He never doubted that God would indeed answer his request. He didn't pray to win, thus hurt someone else, he prayed that God supply the grace to lose with dignity. Gilbert, by his stopping the race to speak to his Father also showed the crowd that he wasn't there without a "dad," but His Father was most definitely there with him. Yes, Gilbert walked away a winner that night, with his Father at his side.
Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with man. Now the story goes, a little shepherd boy was watching his sheep one Sunday morning and he heard the bells of the church ringing. And watching the people walk along the pasture where he was, he happened to think to himself, "I would like to communicate with God! But, what can I say to God?"
He had never learned a prayer. So, on bended knee, he began to recite the alphabet. Repeating this prayer several times, a man passing by, heard the boy's voice and peaked through the bushes. He saw the young boy kneeling with folded hands, eyes closed, repeating the alphabet.
He interrupted the boy. "What are you doing, my little one?" he asked. The boy replied, "I was praying sir." The man seemed surprised and said, "But why are you reciting the alphabet?" The boy explained, "I don't know any prayers, sir. But I want God to take care of me, and to help me care for my sheep. And so I thought, if I said all I knew, He could put the letters together into words, and He would know all that I want and should say!"
The man smiled and said, "Bless your heart, God will!" And he went on to church knowing full well that he had heard the finest sermon he could possibly hear that day.
Maybe if we thought like little children and let God put together the letters, what we should want, and what we should say, things would probably work out a lot better than we planned!!!
One evening in September I took my 13-year-old son to see a St. Louis Cardinal's baseball game. I was given 2 free tickets for bleacher seats from my work, what a blessing! So I picked up my son at home and hurried back to the ballpark. We we're going early to watch batting practice. I told Nathaniel that from the bleachers, we might be able to get a souvenir baseball hit to us.
Well, there were a lot of balls falling around us, but that's just it, around us. Some on the left, some on the right, some in front of us, but nothing we could reach. And then it happened! A batted ball landed right at my feet. It did a double ricochet between the ground and the seat and blasted out from under there about 8 feet high right into the boy's glove. Unfortunately for me, the boy wasn't Nathaniel. The ball had bounced about 10 rows in front of us. At the very moment the ball hit, I was distracted and looking to my right. I didn't even see it!
Well, that's it, I thought. You don't get another chance like that at the same game. So I settled in with just about 10 minutes left of batting practice content with the game we were about to see. But there was another home run ball hit in the section to the right of us some 25 feet away. An elderly attendant got the ball when it landed, and signaled pointing with his finger that he wanted Nathaniel to have the baseball.
I was delighted and perplexed. We hadn't been talking with this man. He wasn't an attendant for our section. And there were about 10 kids all excited and hopping up and down hoping for the ball. Nathaniel wasn't even close enough to be with the other kids. He was another 6 feet in back of them. But the attendant picked Nathaniel. I thought to myself, what luck! We have our souvenir!
It wasn't until the middle of the 3rd inning that the significance of what I had just witnessed hit me. It was then that Nathaniel leaned over to me and said, "You know dad, I prayed before we got here that I would be able to get a baseball." Whir . Bang! My head must've made that noise as all at once my brain suddenly comprehended what my eyes had seen. What I had dismissed as a bit of good luck surely had a divine design!
This event has reinforced for me that God hears our smallest of prayers. Maybe even that's wrong, maybe there's not any such thing as a "small" prayer to God. And no request seems too trivial when asked in sincerity with the heart of child. Nathaniel has the proof! It weighs 5 ounces and has a leather cover sewn with double stitch 10/5 red thread.
The day is over, you are driving home. You tune in your radio.You hear a little blurb about a little village in India where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. Its not influenza, but three of four people are dead, and its kind of interesting, and they are sending some doctors over there to investigate it.
You don't think much about it, but on Sunday, coming home from church, you hear another radio spot. Only they say its not three villagers, its 30,000 villagers in the back hills of this particular area of India, and it's on TV that night. CNN runs a little blurb. People are heading there from the disease center in Atlanta because this disease strain has never been seen before.
By Monday morning when you get up, its the lead story. For its not just India. Its Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and before you know it, you're hearing this story everywhere and they have coined it now as "the mystery flu." The President has made some comment that he and everyone are praying and hoping that all will go well over there. But everyone is wondering, "How are we going to contain it?" That's when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe. He is closing their borders. No flights from India, Pakistan, or any of the countries where this thing has been seen.
And that's why that night you are watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman is translated from a French news program into English. There's a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the mystery flu. It has come to Europe. Panic strikes. As best they can tell, once you get it you have it for a week before you know it. Then you have four days of unbelievable symptoms. And then you die.
Britain closes its borders, but its too late. South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton and it's Tuesday morning when the President of the United States makes the following announcement. "Due to a national security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I'm sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this thing." Within four days our nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are talking about "What if it comes to this country"? And preachers on Tuesday are saying "It's the scourge of God."
It's Wednesday night and you are at a church prayer meeting when somebody runs if from the parking lot and yells, "Turn on a radio, turn on a radio!" And while the church listens to a little transistor radio with a microphone stuck up to it, the announcement is made. Two women are lying in a Long Island hospital dying from the mystery flu. Within hours it seems, this thing just sweeps across the country.
People are working around the clock trying to find an antidote. Nothing is working. California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. It's as though it's just sweeping in from the borders. And then all of a sudden the news comes out. The code has been broken. A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. It's going to take the blood of somebody who hasn't been infected and so, sure enough, all through the Midwest, through all those channels of emergency broadcasting, everyone is asked to do one simple thing. Go to your downtown hospital and have your blood type taken. That's all we ask of you. When you hear the sirens go off in your neighborhood, please make your way quickly, quietly and safely, to the hospitals.
Sure enough, when you and your family get down there late on that Friday night, there is a long line and they've got nurses and doctors coming out and pricking fingers and taking blood and putting labels on it. Your spouse and your kids are out there, and they take your blood type and they say, "wait here in the parking lot and if we call your name you can be dismissed and go home." You stand around, scared, with your neighbors, wondering what in the world is going on and if this is the end of the World.
Suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming. He's yelling a name and waving a clipboard. What? He yells it again! And your son tugs on your jacket and says," Daddy, that's me."
Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. "Wait a minute. Hold on!" And they say, Its okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. We want to make sure he doesn't have the disease. We think he has got the right type. Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses crying and hugging one another-some are even laughing. It's the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week, and an old doctor walks up to you and says, "Thank you sir. Your son's blood type is perfect. It's clean, it is pure, and we can make the vaccine."
As the word begins to spread all across that parking lot full of folks, people are screaming and praying and laughing and crying. But then the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your wife aside and says, "May we see you for a moment? We didn't realize that the donor would be a minor and we need.....we need you to sign a consent form."
You begin to sign and then you see that the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. "H-h-h-ow many pints?" And that is when the old doctor's smile fades and he says, "We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren't prepared. We need it all!"
"But-but. . . .I don't understand. He's my only son!"
"We are talking about the world here. Please sign. We-We need it all!"
"But can't you give him a transfusion?"
"If we had clean blood we would. Please, will you please sign?"
In numb silence you do. Then they say, "would you like to have a moment with him before we begin?" Could you walk back? Could you walk back to that room where he sits on a table saying, "Daddy? Mommy? What's going on?" Could you take his hands and say, "Son, your mommy and I love you and we would never ever let anything happen to you that didn't just have to be. Do you understand that?"
And when that old doctor comes back in and says, "I'm sorry, we've got to get started. People all over the world are dying." Could you leave? Could you walk out while he is saying, "Dad? Mom? Dad? Why. . . .why have you forsaken me?"
And then next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, and some folks sleep through it, and some folks don't even bother to come because they have better things to do, and some folks come with just a pretentious smile and just pretend to care. Would you want to jump up and say, "EXCUSE ME! MY SON DIED FOR YOU! MY ONLY SON! DON'T YOU EVEN CARE? DOES IT MEAN NOTHING TO YOU?"
I wonder, is that what God wants to say?
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