Terry has just finished 7 weeks of radiation treatment for a tumour growing on his brain. Last week, with only 3 days of treatment left, his doctor took him into a room and told him the tumour was very aggressive and growing at a rate at which radiation was having little effect and there was nothing else they could do with him.
I went and visited Terry on Saturday. It was a beautiful autumn day with hardly a cloud in the sky. We sat outside under the shade of an umbrella. Everything was peaceful – almost serene. It was a scene that will stay in my memory for a very long time.
I asked Terry, “I heard the news – how are you doing?”
It was a sincere question.
He looked me right in the eye and said, “Good.”
“Tell me about it,” I replied.
What Terry shared with me over the next half hour were some of the most beautiful, sincere and faith-building words I have heard for a long time. Here was a man, courageously facing death, held tightly in the grip of God’s grace. After he had finished I just sat there very quietly absorbing it all. Then he said, “You know one day I’d like to share some of these things with our congregation.”
“That’s a great idea” I replied, “How about tomorrow?”
And so he did. We put a couple of chairs up on the stage. I gave him all the time he needed. He spoke quietly but very powerfully. He talked about his faith in God. He talked about his trust in Jesus and his strong confidence in the promises of God. He also shared very honestly about his struggle some days with what he was feeling verses what he believed. He challenged anyone in the congregation who might be putting off a decision to get serious with God. “Time is too short to mess around,” he said. He then referred to some passages of Scriptures that had been especially encouraging to him – Psalm 23 and the assurance that no matter what – God is always with us, and Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (v.35). Terry ended by reading that great passage in Revelation 21 with the promise of the New Heavens and the New Earth – the Christian’s eternal home.
The atmosphere in the auditorium was very still. You couldn’t hear a pin drop. It was one of the best sermons I have ever heard, from one of the most quiet, gentle and unassuming people in our midst. Terry has no wife, no children and not even a large number of close friends. But the impact he made on all of us yesterday – many wives and children and friends, will be remembered I would expect, in years to come.
At least long after Terry has been welcomed into his eternal home.