Monday, November 21, 2011

The remedy for the ills of the world

What has happened this year politically? The 'Arab spring' has toppled a few dictators, but has it been a real victory for militant Islam? We have seen the deaths of Ghaddafi and Bin Laden, but were there really 'players' in any meaningfull sense? Financial markets have collapsed, but why? The polarization between the Senate and the House in America? The Chinese currency inequality> The folly of the European single currency? WE are watching the failure of democracy. People no longer vot for something, but against something. They no longer see solutions. Like the Occupy protestors that can only complain but all the proposed solutions have already failed.

We have seen riots in London, buthow does stealing two left-footed luxury trainers help matters? We have seen scandals in the press phone hacking. Neither the police nor politicians can be trusted. At least two journalists have been fired for high level plagiarism or misrepresentation. Global warming is suspected of being a sham. Scientific fraud is rife. Even in cricket the players cheat.

This has been a year when the Devil has taken control.

You know what my remedy is. This is how I became a Christian:

I was 30 years old. I had just been appointed as consultant hematologist in a beautiful seaside town. I had a wonderful wife and two lovely children. I was financially secure for the rest of my life. I was well on my way to making a name for myself as a research scientist. One day I was going to be famous in my field. I was moving into a circle of smart people with every material luxury. I could see that it would soon be mine.

And yet I was profoundly unhappy. Something was obviously missing in my life.

One day (these were the days when doctors did house calls) I visited a patient at home. As he opened the door to me, he greeted me with, “Hello, doctor, I’m a committed Christian, how about you?”

What an embarrassment. I muttered something about being sent to Sunday School as a child, but, in truth, I had given up on religion. I had taken home the message that if you went around doing good, or at least did your best, you would end up in heaven. I was honest enough to know that I couldn’t do good all the time, and indeed, much of the time I didn’t even do my best. Nevertheless, he sent me on my way with, “Why don’t you come to our church. You will find Francis Dixon a wonderful preacher.”

Six months went by and I did nothing. I was sinking into an ever deeper despair, particularly so as all the skills that I had relied on to answer examination questions were letting me down. I could get the diagnosis right and give the right treatment, but my leukemia patients still died.

Eventually my wife cajoled to me to going to my patient’s church. On the first Sunday I tried, I couldn’t find it so I returned home empty. I found it the second time, and looked around, expecting to see at least one friendly face. It was difficult because the church was absolutely packed with hardly a seat to be found, not the way I envisioned churches. The reason I couldn’t find him soon became apparent. He had died the previous Thursday. The sermon that Francis Dixon preached that day was clearly designed to console his widow.

His text was from John 11:25-26. It was the story of the raising of Lazarus. Remember the story, the sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus that their brother was dying. Rather than hurrying to Bethany, where they lived, Jesus stayed where he was across the River Jordan for two more days. Eventually he decided to go. When he arrived at Bethany Lazarus had died and had been in the grave for 4 days. Jesus had deliberately delayed because he was about to perform the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. When he arrived Martha scolded him, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”

Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (In those days they used the KJV)

Jesus then asked Martha, “Do you believe this?”

And Francis Dixon points straight at me and asks, “Do you believe this?”

Martha replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

This was the pointed question I was asked. Did I believe that? Now was the time to stop pussyfooting around. This was the real question. Did I believe that Jesus was the Son of God, with power over Life and Death or was he just a prophet or a wise man or even just a good man? If I believed that he was the Christ I would live my life one way; if I believed he was not then I would live my life completely differently.

You cannot figure this out by logic or by examining the world or by any type of science. You have to make a decision, because in not making a decision that he is the Christ you are making a decision that he is not. People talk about a leap of faith. I never knew what that meant. But then I did. To believe that Jesus is the Christ means to live it and only by living it do you discover that it is true.

On that day, I trusted it was true and today I testify that it is true.

I later learned that my patient’s wife and two other women had been meeting every week to pray for the conversion of his doctor.


Patty said...

What a powerful story! Thank you for sharing it. I also took that "leap of faith" and my life is immeasurably changed.

Paula said...

It was so good to read about your coming to faith. And even better to know how you have followed that faith ever since. Amazing to think it was the challenge from a dying patient, that God used to draw you to Himself.

Carter said...

Thank you for a clear and strong testimony.