She must have been in her 70’s and she was laid up in a hospital bed, terminally ill, when the village Pastor paid her a visit.
‘Preacher, pray for me’.
‘Certainly Madam. Certainly. And what would you like me to pray for you concerning?’
‘Oh Pastor, that God would heal me. I know I’ve not lived a single day for Him and I’ve frittered away my entire life on the lake, fishing every Saturday and avoiding worship every Sunday, but I really want God to heal me.’
‘Whatever do you mean, Pastor??? [her tone was that of a person annoyed] Why shouldn’t you pray for me to be well?’
‘Frankly, Madam, as a conscientious reader of Scripture I’m aware of that little saying of Jesus which, if memory serves, runs something like this: do not cast your pearls before the swine. Given that, I have to wonder if your prayer request isn’t based on selfish motives.’
‘Pastor, if that’s what you are, no one has ever spoken to me like that. I will certainly never visit your church’.
‘Madam, I’m only here to help. So, if I pray that God make you well, what will you do with your remaining time? Will you live for yourself, serving yourself, caring only for yourself, and returning to your ways of forgetting God and ignoring him completely?’
‘Why I never. You’re so rude!’
“But that’s certainly no answer to the question is it? Why should I pray that God lengthen a life that will contribute not one bit to the betterment of humanity? Why litter the world with another selfish soul? Wouldn’t I really be doing our community a disservice if I were to ask God that he allow you to consume resources whilst never caring for anyone or anything beyond the length of your own nose? We Christians are responsible for more than just ourselves. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.’
‘You have to be the worst Pastor in the world’.
‘I’m certain that you’re correct, Miss, and I refuse to become worse simply to salve your anguished soul. In my opinion, until you are right with God, you should be restless. As Augustine put it so rightly so long ago- ‘Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee’.
‘So, Madam, I will indeed pray for you’. But it won’t be your will that I’ll be seeking, it will be God’s. And my prayer will be that your heart is restless and you have no peace of soul or mind until you find in Him your refuge.’ “Praying that you enjoy a longer life wherein you simply ignore him… that, I cannot, I will not do.’
‘Take your prayers and go’ she spat. And he did.
She died that night- only God knowing if she had found eternal solace or not. No one else could tell.