“God has been so good to me.” Her eyes were closed, her hand pressed to her heart in an expression of complete sincerity. She sat in her cozy living room, where in every corner you’ll find evidence of her flair for all things pink. She has always believed that beautiful things bring glory to her Creator.
She spent Christmas in our small town hospital, a full week of therapies, breathing treatments, medications, coughing, and pain. She’s 89 years old. Being with her is like dipping a toe into the rivers of Heaven–she speaks almost exclusively about Jesus and her eternal home.
But on this day, she had called me to come over and hear about what she called “one of the most special Christmases I ever had”–the one she spent in a hospital bed. Several days before Christmas, she went to the emergency room just down the road from her house. She was so sick and miserable. Our hometown doctors and nurses took her in, helping her cope with the crisis: the very beginning a bad case of RSV. They admitted her to the hospital and waited on her night and day. Thus began her special Christmas.
She told me about how she met Jesus there, in the days leading up to His birthday. He sent a steady stream of doctors, nurses, and support staff to her side to show His love to her in personal ways. She told me about Pamela, who came in every day to clean her room. With her came the sunshine. She told me about a young nurse, “the little bulldog,” who made sure that no one got out of bed when they weren’t supposed to. That same nurse searched the hospital until she found a walker in the perfect color: pink. She told me about David, who came to give her breathing treatments. She was moved by his care for her when he took the mask off of her face and took the time to smooth her hair, like a mother would for her little child.
The days wore on, and over and over again she saw the face of Jesus in all of these faces who served her so sweetly. Pamela came in early on Christmas morning and showed her a picture on her phone. She had captured what she called “the Christmas moon.” It was a bright moon that early morning, and in the photo it looked like rays of light shot out from all sides of it. She felt like she was seeing the Christmas star in real time. She told me that she felt so close to the Lord that day, Christmas in the hospital.
How strange that anyone would find Jesus in a place where no one wants to be on His birthday. Yet she insisted that this experience was blessing after blessing after blessing. She knew that God had placed her exactly where she needed to be to know His love in a very tangible way through the caring hands of the people He created. How can this type of attitude possibly be explained?
Only through the faith-producing power of the Holy Spirit. Only through the evidence that in 89 years’ time, this dear friend of mine has truly been pruned into a tree that produces so much spiritual fruit that its branches are heavy with the weight of it. Oh how earnestly she seeks Him. So earnestly that she finds Him even here, in a stark hospital room with flourescent lighting, no sign of the beauty that she’s used to surrounding herself with. Yet, she saw beauty anyway. She saw it and she felt it to the bottom of her very soul, knowing without a doubt that God had this Christmas carved out as an intimately unforgettable experience where Jesus may as well have been sitting at the end of her bed.
“God has been so good to me,” she said. “I want people to know that He is the answer.” I sat in her living room and watched her praise Him in her frailty. And I realized that I was witnessing that abundant life that Jesus talked about. Few would wish to take her place in that hospital bed on Christmas, but oh what must it be like to have life so abundant that your joy simply cannot be contained when God grants you a Christmas as “special” as this one. I hope by the time I’m 89 I have learned that He really is the answer, to all of it. Even in room 129 on Jesus’ birthday.