Books spilled against the wall and stacks of paper sat on the table daring someone to move them. The room’s distracted caretaker stood fidgeting with something on her finger while my partner tried to guide her to the stretcher.
We’d been called for a sick person, a very general term used by dispatch when a specific problem is unable to be obtained. We found Rose (this is who she’ll be for the story) pacing and biting her nails. She was as restless as a kid standing outside the gates of Disney Land a few minutes before opening.
“Have a seat right here,” I said and patted the stretcher. She sat down and shifted on the mat. “What’s going on today?”
Her eyes fluttered. “I don’t know. I just,” she touched her middle, “my stomach hurts a little and I just feel weird.”
I sighed. “Alright. We’ll take you to get checked out.” It’d been a long day and I felt the weight of it on my body. I slumped on the bench while my partner loaded Rose into the back of the rescue (ambulance). Rose told us what hospital she wanted and a few minutes later she was set up with an IV and heart monitor and we were on our way.
I swayed with the bumps on the road and pecked away at the report on my laptop. I was more than a little annoyed at the lack of an apparent illness in my patient. In fact, I was so distracted by my frustration that the sudden sound of her voice startled me.
“You know, you’re the only one I’ve been able to look at.”
I scrunched my forehead and noticed she was staring at me. “Huh?”
“Out of all the people in my house you’re the only one I could look in the eye.”
When we arrived on scene law enforcement was already inside. Apparently Rose had a history of drug abuse and was well known. I studied her face for a moment as a thought floated through my mind. It’s because she’s looking into the eyes of Jesus. I couldn’t imagine how that was true. As I inferred, compassion wasn’t really my forte at the moment.
But I felt compelled to voice that ridiculous thought. So I gave her that here goes nothing look and said, “It’s because you’re looking into the eyes of Jesus.”
She threw her hands up. “Oh, don’t you go preaching at me! I don’t believe in your system.”
I swallowed a laugh and returned to my report. Note to self: Don’t bring that up again.
It wasn’t too long before she spoke again. This time in a much softer voice. “I’m sorry that I offended you.”
I looked up. “Why do you think you’ve offended me?”
She waved her hand like she was swatting at a fly. “You religious people always get offended by stuff like that.” She said religious like it had just kicked her puppy.
I gave her a small smile. This was starting to get interesting. “You didn’t offend me. God doesn’t need me to defend him. I’m pretty sure he can handle himself.”
She gave me a strange look and I went back to my report. A couple minutes passed in silence before she said, “I just can’t believe in your system.”
I raised my eyebrows at her. “You know, you’re the only one still talking about this.”
Her eyes widened. “You’re right.” She angled herself towards me. “I wonder why that is.”
I decided it was a question rather than a general wondering. “Because you’re the one who’s offended.”
She turned so that she was straight on the stretcher and stared out the back window. “Yeah…why am I offended?”
I set the computer down. This had suddenly become much more than a simple transport. “Because you’ve blamed God for all the bad things in your life and you’re pissed at him.”
The next time Rose looked at me there were tears in her eyes. I felt my heart move, being massaged by compassion and the immense love of God for this woman. “How do I stop being mad?”
I leaned toward her. “God isn’t responsible for the pain you’ve experienced in your life. He doesn’t bring pain he brings life. The eyes you saw when you looked at me, that was Jesus.” She turned her head like she was going to argue. “I know it was because you saw love, tenderness, compassion, and more life than you’ve ever known.” I smiled. “And I was frustrated. So I know it was Jesus you saw.”
Rose set her jaw. “I can’t believe in your system.” She glanced up at me. “But those eyes…” She hesitated for a moment before staring at her hands. “I’m sorry, I just can’t. Isn’t there a higher power? Can’t you just consider that for a second?”
I shrugged. “Okay, sure.”
She wrinkled her face. “Yeah right.”
I chuckled. “What? I do believe in a higher power.”
Rose muttered a few inaudible words as we unloaded the stretcher and pushed her through the ER doors and down the hall. We were in the hallway when she turned to me with a tear on her cheek and said, “I just can’t believe in your system.”
I grinned and squeezed her arm. “It’s okay, Rose.”
We moved her to the bed and I gave my verbal report to the nurse. I had a written report to finish but before I left the room I sat down next the bed and took Rose’s hand. “Rose, I want you to know that God loves you. He always has, always will. That higher power you were talking about…I believe in the highest power.” I continued to share with her the words God fed into my heart. Beautiful words of acceptance, love, and redemption.
When I was finished her face was wet. I stood and she grabbed my wrist. “I’m sorry,” she said and sniffed. “I can’t believe in your system.” She looked down briefly before looking up at my face. “Okay…maybe I can believe in your system.”
It didn’t take me very long to finish my report and on the way out I stopped in Rose’s room. She was alone. I sat beside the bed again. “Hey.”
“I don’t want to leave here without giving you a chance to give your heart to Jesus.”
Her eyes fell to the sheet she was twisting around her finger. “I don’t think I can. But, I might like to.”
“Well, you have an opportunity to do that right now.”
I could see her on the seesaw. One side was weighed down by all of her life experience and on the other end sat Jesus representing a bunch of unknowns. But he was also a spark of hope. Hope for an existence that always seemed beyond her grasp.
She turned to me and another tear leaked out of her eye. “Okay, I’m ready.”
In the minutes that followed I helped Rose turn her heart and life over to Jesus. She was able to release God from everything she’d blamed him for and step into a love that set her free. We talked a bit longer and I left shaking my head and laughing.
I can’t believe in your system.
That had been her argument the whole time. But she wasn’t arguing with me. I actually said very little the whole time I was with her. There was no debate, no attempt to convince. There was just Jesus taking over my eyes and being the unseen person she was really arguing with. She lost and by losing ending up winning more than she ever hoped for.
Jesse and Kara Birkey
Jesse and Kara Birkey are committed lovers of Jesus who seek to show others the extraordinary life of Jesus is available for everyone. They have authored two books, been featured in films and seek to serve the Lord in whatever ways they can. Follow their blog here.
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Life Resurrected, Extraordinary Miracles through Ordinary People has been endorsed by Sid Roth and Mark Virkler and is a collection of inspiring stories making it clear that the extraordinary life of Jesus is available to all who love Him. It’s also the testimony of Jesse’s life, the road he travelled bringing him into the arms of Jesus. Get the paperback here. Get the Kindle Version Here. View the trailer here.
Marriage What’s the Point? One couple finds meaning in a crazy mess is the story of their marriage—The tragedy and the restoration. They bear their hearts in an attempt to get others to bear theirs and finally receive the freedom they’ve longed for. Get the paperback here. Get the Kindle Version Here.