That’s how it felt for me on Friday of last week. I had gotten an email message from a woman who said her friend was in the hospital with cancer and wondered if I could stop by. “She watches you on television every week, and thinks of you as her pastor,” the friend said. I was about to write back and tell her I couldn’t possibly visit everybody in the hospital who watches our services on television, but something stopped me. I checked my schedule and thought I might be able to squeeze in a quick visit between two other appointments.
And that’s what I did.
When I walked into her room she said, “Oh, my goodness! It’s Dr. Somerville!” And then she began telling me a story I had told in one of my sermons, almost word for word. I stood beside her bed while she clutched my hand, squeezing it hard, her eyes shining. I told her I couldn’t stay long, and I didn’t, but I stayed long enough to listen to part of her life story, to sympathize with her suffering, and to say a prayer. When I said “Amen” she looked up at me and thanked me for coming and I could see that the visit had made a difference.
I don’t know how much longer that woman has in this world. The cancer is widespread. She may tiptoe off to heaven in the next few days. But for a little while, on a Friday afternoon, heaven came to earth just because somebody took the time to visit.
As we think about how to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, on this year-long, every-member mission trip, maybe you could think about someone you could visit. I feel sure that for them, too, it would make a difference.