As Vikki watched, I struggled to load the old reclining chair into my Nissan Murano. My wife had placed the chair on the side of the road with a sign that read, “For Sale, $15.” Vikki had chewed me down to $10, and now wanted free delivery. She didn’t live far away, so I agreed without a fight—believing it would be a nice break from my yard work.
I followed Vikki across town. When we reached her home, she parked on the street and motioned for me to back my Murano up to her garage. As I did so, Vikki opened the garage door, and I saw that it was packed tight—side to side, top to bottom. There was no way the old reclining chair was going to fit, and even Vikki seemed to realize that. She asked me to leave the chair in her driveway and vowed to make room for it later.
As I unloaded the old chair, Vikki began to tell me about her life. She joyfully reminisced about teaching at a college, traveling the world, and pampering her nieces and nephews (she never had children of her own). But soon her joy turned to sorrow as the conversation moved to her rapidly progressing cancer. It turned out, the doctors believed that Vikki didn’t have long to live.
As our conversation continued, the reclining chair unloaded and my yard work waiting for me at home, I wondered out loud why Vikki was buying a chair in the first place. She confessed that she did not know why—while gesturing toward the garage as if to say she did not know why she had bought any of it. As Vikki spoke, I waited for the right opportunity to ask her about Jesus Christ. When that moment came, I watched Vikki’s somber mood quickly shift from vulnerable back to the feisty, fiercely independent, personality I’d met earlier in the day.
Vikki verbally attacked the Bible—and the ignorance and arrogance of Christians for believing they had found the way. She went on to explain that she was far too educated to believe the myths found in Scripture. We debated deep into the afternoon. I put forward my best case for the resurrection of Christ—and the historical evidence to support it—but Vikki was not buying it. Convinced that the conversation was going nowhere, I finally excused myself and returned home to my yard work.
The encounter with Vikki consumed my thoughts the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. That night I prayed for her, “Lord, she doesn’t have much time. Peel back the heavens and reveal Jesus Christ to her in a way that she cannot deny.” As I finished my prayer, my mind went to the conclusion of Christ’s story about The Rich Man and Lazarus. In the story, the Rich Man finds himself in Hades—while Lazarus finds himself at the side of Abraham in the paradise of God.
The Rich Man in Hades said to Abraham, “I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.” “No, father Abraham,” he said, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” But Abraham said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
We do not need to witness miracles to believe in Jesus Christ—we have been given something far greater and much more reliable—the testimony of a God who does not lie. The Apostle Paul writes that faith comes from hearing the message about Christ (Romans 10:17). Similarly, the Apostle Peter, when recalling his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration—where he saw Jesus’ face shine as the sun and his garments white as light—concluded by stating, “we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19, ESV).
Vikki had read Moses and the Prophets, but she had hardened her heart against the Word of God. As her final hour drew near she filled her life with tables and chairs—perishable things—hoping they would bring her comfort. But all the while she rejected the truth that Scripture alone could supply.
None of us know when our final hour will come. Is your heart hard, and your garage full? Are you trying to find fulfillment in the idols of this world? If so, you are searching in the wrong place. Search the Scriptures, and you will find the story of a Savior—crucified for you at great expense—but delivered to you free of charge. Trust in him, and when the hour comes, he will deliver you to the paradise of God.
Rev. Troy Tysdal is Director of Communications and Prayer for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and serves as editor in chief of Faith & Fellowship magazine.