It was a painful lesson God taught me early.

When I was in high school, I worked in a nursing home. One of the patients was Jeanie, a former nun dying at age 32 of colon cancer. She was bitter with God for the cancer and felt rejected by Him.

In her younger days, Jeanie dreamed of doing great things for God. She wanted to care for the sick and friendless — be a regular Mother Teresa. Instead, her illness made it impossible. In pain and confined to the grounds of the nursing home, she felt worthless. 

Jeanie was, however, a dear friend and we had a great time. All the high school-aged nurse’ aids sought her out for advice on life and love. She was also one of a few people who understood what it was to be a woman with a call of God upon her life. 

Shortly after I switched jobs, the Lord spoke very clearly to me to go out to the nursing home and see Jeanie. I didn’t want to go. After all, I’d just quit. But He persisted and I resisted. 

Finally, I promised Him I would go — but procrastinated. I told myself I would go AFTER I read the newspaper. The paper arrived and opened to the obituaries. The last one was Jeanie’s. Just before press time, she had committed suicide that day

I went to her viewing (she looked awful) and spoke to her grieving mother. 

And I’ve never forgotten. When the Lord tells me to go pray with someone or speak a word, I do. It is not just a matter of Jeanie dying — she was dying anyway — but God needed someone with skin to pray with her and He sent me. He could have sent an angel and maybe He did; but He also asked me. Her eternity remains a question in my mind.

We know God doesn’t always get His way on earth. Jesus told us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Kids are raped and murdered — and He expects us mere mortals to dispense justice and protection. There are grievous illnesses — and He expects humans to find cures. There are people without hope in Christ — and He expects us to carry the Word. He gives us great responsibility.

Until the great awakening in the 19th century, church leaders believed that if God wanted the lost saved, it was His responsibility and vehemently taught against mission work. But He did give that responsibility to us in the Great Commission. And it weighs heavily upon me.

So while it may seem like an overstatement to some that we are responsible for another soul’s eternity, it is a reality that the lost won’t hear unless someone tells them. And perhaps nowhere else but in God’s kingdom, I’m somebody.

© Rebekah BinkleyMontgomery 2005

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