Emmanuel means, “God with us.” However, it was also the name given to a man whom I had the opportunity of meeting one day in late 1992. My wife was the first to hear of the situation, for it was the wife of Emmanuel who spoke with her from Montreal long distance on the phone to Ottawa, where we were living. In a worried tone, Emmanuel’s wife explained to her the situation. Her husband had been on a trip from Montreal to Ottawa. But, along the way, his car went off the road. The car turned over several times. Now, he was in critical condition in the hospital. Just how critical, Emmanuel’s wife didn’t seem to know at the time. Would we be able to go and visit Emmanuel?
Soon, we learned that Emmanuel’s situation was next to impossible. He was in a coma, and blood was lining his lungs. Wires and tubes came out of him in many directions. There was very little chance of him coming out alive. Could — or would — God restore him? Was this part of His plan at this time? Or was God doing something else? I hoped that we could revive him, somehow, by faith. But, as much as we hoped that this would happen, it would not. Emmanuel would die in just a few short days.
Mind Made Up
On the way to the hospital, I had already made up my mind and decided to read to Emmanuel from the book of John in the New Testament. That just “came” to me, and I suppose it was God putting that thought into my mind — for things worked out very interestingly indeed. In my own thinking, the book of John was a good place to start, being an especially evangelistically-oriented book. Since he was in a coma, he would likely be able to hear my voice as I read to him from the Bible. Studies — amazingly — had demonstrated that many people in comas could hear people in the room, even though they were unconscious. Could it be that God, in His mercy, left the hearing banks open for such a time as this? I was “banking” on these “banks” being open!
Emmanuel was not a saved person before he went into the hospital — this much became clear after talking with both his wife and their pastor. Was it not God’s sheer mercy that was keeping him alive right now? What would happen if he died too soon? Would he not perish forever? God did not intend that to be the case for Emmanuel, even if he did allow that car accident to occur. Perhaps there was a sovereign purpose for allowing that car accident to happen. Perhaps God, in his wisdom and in his mercy (rather than judgment), allowed that car accident to occur for such a time as this. Perhaps this was the time that God was going to save Emmanuel, forever, from what would otherwise be everlasting torment. In other words, God could make good come out of evil. God could use this event, to dramatically alter the course of Emmanuel’s — eternal — life. And eternity, after all, was what counted in the end. On the earth, people could live five years, ten years, or 100 years. But in the end, everyone died! If that was all there was to life, that was pretty sad indeed. Fortunately, the Bible says that’s not the end. There is a heaven. But there also is a hell! And we need to make sure that we’re going to the right place.
I planned to read to Emmanuel a couple of chapters a day from the book of John. On my third visit with him, I started reading from the part where Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned — he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live!” (John 5:24-25) Now amazingly, just as soon as I read him this verse, literally within about a second, the electronic equipment hooked up to Emmanuel’s body began to beep! Beeps were seemingly coming from everywhere, and a few nurses rushed in!
“Everyone out!” the seemed to be shouting now, in some type of panic tone. Then, I thought to myself, “WHAT HAVE I DONE!? I was only reading him the word of God! Maybe I overdid it!” This was the voice of fear speaking to me. I had done nothing wrong … no, nothing! I had only read him the life-changing, life-saving, word of God!
Good Bible-Believing Church
On the night of Emmanuel’s death a few days after the incident with the beeping equipment, Emmanuel’s wife called up our pastor and asked him if he and his wife could come to the hospital. She was concerned, because it was obvious to everyone that, at that point, it might only be a matter of hours before Emmanuel died.
That evening, Emmanuel’s wife Maura, two men named Stas and Iain (who “just happened” to be at the hospital at that time visiting a friend one floor up), and the pastor and his wife, all joined hands and prayed together in the intensive care unit where Emmanuel was stationed (Iain had visited Emmanuel a few days earlier and knew that he was in the hospital). Something dramatic happened while they were praying together. God showed up in a tangible way. It was thick, and you could feel it. The pastor was so amazed, he could hardly describe it to me afterwards.
Stas and Iain’s “Chance” Visit
It was no accident that Stas and Iain just “happened” to be visiting their friend one floor up in the hospital that evening, and that they just “happened” to come downstairs to see how Emmanuel was doing. In fact, before arriving at the hospital with Iain, this man Stas did not even know about Emmanuel’s condition. He was merely accompanying Iain to the hospital. But now THIS is a remarkable thing! Listen closely! The night BEFORE, Stas had had a remarkable DREAM, in which he saw a person fighting for his life — and the representation was made in the dream of “deflated, punctured, balloons” — which was exactly the condition of Emmanuel’s lungs, which, having been ruptured as a result of the crash, were deflated, and filled with blood!!! Not only this, in the dream, Stas saw a corridor, which, later on, he was able to identify as being the one which led to Emmanuel’s hospital room!
The visit to the hospital had been no accident. But why was Stas given this wonderful (prophetic) dream? First, Stas is a devout, God-fearing Christian. He is the type of person who can handle a dream like this, and give glory to God when he sees it unfold. That is one good reason why God would have given the dream to Stas. But another good reason is that, at the time of this amazing dream, Stas had not even heard about Emmanuel, or his condition! God, thus, was confirming his presence in all of the dealings with Emmanuel at that time, by giving this supernatural dream to Stas. The dream became a prayer-base for Stas. There were forces of “good and evil” fighting in the dream. Stas knew it had something to do with spiritual warfare: a man’s eternal destiny was at stake! While people were crying and praying on the earth, a battle for Emmanuel’s eternal destiny was raging in the heavenlies!
What an amazing dream! Certainly, all the glory goes to God. God knew about Emmanuel’s condition. God showed up when Emmanuel’s wife, the pastor and his wife, Stas, and Iain prayed together in that circle in Emmanuel’s room that evening. He cared. And he demonstrated that care by showing up and giving a tangible form of his presence which could even be felt. Admittedly, this was something that went a little bit against the “grain” of the pastor’s theology at that time. He had a hard time telling me about the experience but was forced to admit that it did happen, on account of the fact that it was so powerful!
God also confirmed that he was in on the whole thing, and that he cared about all the things that were happening that week, by giving that dream to Stas the night before Emmanuel died. I cannot help but think, too, that when I was in the room that day, reading John 5:24-25 to him, that God ‘did’ something powerful in the room, and “awakened” Emmanuel’s spirit to the reality that he needed Christ NOW or it was TOO LATE! There is awesome power in the word of God. Don’t be afraid to read it to others if God gives you the chance.
Did Emmanuel come to the point of believing in Christ from his heart? I believe he did. I believe everything we saw happen confirmed this in an unmistakable way. I am only glad that I had the chance to be involved in it, for it was an awesome string of events that occurred.
A Vital Decision
Emmanuel’s life was very important, in that God cared for him very much. The situation is no different today. God cares for you. If you have never put your complete trust in him, he wants you to be saved today. This is something you need to do in order to ensure that God will receive you on the day that you depart from this world and enter into the next. Will you make Jesus Christ, who is God’s Son, the Lord and Saviour of your life? He wants you to put your trust in him today.
Yes, God is loving, and desires to have an intimate (close and personal) relationship with every one of us, but sin (or wrongdoing, if you prefer), does cut us off. It’s like stealing from your own father. Could you have a close relationship with your own father if you were stealing from him? Of course not. And it is the same way with God. But if we have robbed him of anything — if we have stolen from him in this way — then really, we have cut ourselves off from having any type of meaningful relationship with him. Everyone of us has stolen from God in one form or another, for the Bible says, “We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) That means we have all robbed him in some way; we are all guilty.
What is the penalty for sin? The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” (Romans 6:23) God sent Jesus Christ into this world in order to save us from our sins and the punishment that sin brings (eternal death). God’s punishment for sin is death.
God loves you and he loves me. But God is just and cannot let the guilty go free. You might say, “God is good, so He will let me go free.” Actually, it is precisely because He is good that He must punish sin. He cannot let you go free unless a substitute is provided for you. And that’s where Jesus comes in.
God, in his wisdom, love, and mercy, sent Jesus Christ, his Son, to die for us on a cross. Jesus Christ BORE your sin by dying on a cross. The day I myself became a Christian was the day that I realized that Christ Jesus died for me PERSONALLY when he was on that cross. It was personal! Jesus died for me and you personally. When he was on the cross, you and I were on his mind! That’s love, foreknowledge, justice, and mercy, all wrapped up together!
Have you trusted in Jesus? Have you received Him as your Saviour?
Like Emmanuel, our day is coming. We may not “end” it the same way that he does hopefully, but we will end it. What greater wisdom is there in being prepared to meet our maker?
The Bible says, “There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Or, will the day come, when you meet Jesus — not as your Lord and Saviour — but as your great and terrible Judge and Adversary! There is an incredible difference between the two! Judgment is coming. The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
What an amazing difference between those two extremes! Actually, the Bible says those are the ONLY choices we have. You see, if we worship idols or put our trust in something else that is not Jesus Christ, we are actually rejecting His great gift to us. It’s like saying “No” to him. So if you’ve not said “Yes” to him, you’ve actually already said “No”! That is why the Bible says that those who does not believe are condemned already!
So Emmanuel, you see, was condemned prior to believing. It was truly the mercy of God that kept him alive on that hospital bed.
Jesus desires that you put your trust in him today, by faith. You can do that right now, by humbling yourself before God and turning to him in faith.
Just like Jesus said in John 5:24-25,
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned — he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live!”
So today, I want to encourage you, trust in Jesus. He is good. He would not have gone to the cross for no reason. He went to the cross so that He could pay the penalty for your sin and for my sin – simply by trusting Him as our Lord and Savior, and simply humbling ourselves and saying, “Yes, Lord I need you. I really do need you. And I trust you, Lord, and I thank you for paying for my sin on the cross. Lord, I receive your forgiveness. Thank you for being my substitute. Lord, make me your child today.” That is what God is looking for in His creation. So if you’re willing to say that, then consider yourself as having crossed over from death to life! Welcome to the family of God.
Updated March 21, 2008