The Merciful Mistake

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 3
He lay in the hospital that day racked with pain and impatient to be out again with his carefree friends. He was a young man who had been thrown from his horse while riding. Now as he lay in bed, he was resolving to become master of horsemanship and was almost decided to take the law course at the University. Why, oh, why did the pain in his leg...
Suddenly everything changed for him. A sober nurse quietly brought a folding screen into his ward and placed it carefully around his bed.
The screen! That meant he was expected to die. Now, soon! The world began to collapse around him. Horses and law courses were forgotten. He heard the hospital clock chime one. Perhaps before it chimed again he would be gone. Why hadn't they told him before? He wasn't ready to die. Perhaps before the hour was passed he would be face to face with God. He hated the thought. Not that he had ever done anything so very bad, but he just hadn't got acquainted with God. He had always figured there was plenty of time. Why had he kept at such a long distance from God?
His life began to pass before his eyes and he tried to see it as God would look at it. He shuddered. He hadn't even kept the second commandment about loving your neighbor, let alone the first commandment about loving God with all your heart. For the first time in his life he felt the crushing weight of the load of his own sin, and groaned at the judgment of a holy God. Restlessly he tossed. His eyes roamed feverishly over the ceiling and walls.. That ominous screen! The dread ticking of the great clock!
Then the, answer came. It was written on a little placard on the opposite wall. He could just see it above the screen:
That was it! Jesus Christ, the Son of God—somehow a fellow would be saved if he came to Him. The sick man remembered pictures of the Christ with His hand stretched out to help—and one vivid picture of Christ on the Cross. Yes, the Cross! Christ had died, and in some way that meant pardon for sinners and rest for the soul. This time he didn't stop to question it or argue it or put it off. He read the verse again: "Come unto Me... and I will give you rest."
Right out loud he said: "I will come! I do come! I come to Thee. Is it too late?"
The man in the next bed thought, "Poor guy, he's delirious now." But the man behind the screen was smiling. He knew it wasn't too late. A light shone into his soul. The burden of his sin rolled off and peace filled its place. He rested on the finished work of the Son of God and he knew he was forgiven. He had never been so deeply happy in his life. Now he was ready to die.
And yet, he wasn't ready to die. He thought of his own brother and the fellows he chummed with. Most of them cursed and scorned the name of God. Why hadn't he come to Christ sooner—while there was still time to tell them? If he could only have one chance to shout this wonderful news from the housetops! He would give such a plea from a dying man that would make the whole world wake up! If only—
Then the nurse came back.
"I'm very sorry, sir," she said, "there's been a mistake. We placed the screen at the wrong bed. Very sorry, sir."
To her astonishment the patient sat bolt upright in bed and said: "Sorry! Why, that's the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my life!"
Have you come to Christ for salvation? There may not be "plenty of time" for you.
Are you telling others of Christ as though it were their last chance? Today may be your last chance— or theirs.