Joyce was referred to Hospice with end stage liver failure. As the hospice social worker it was my job to meet with Joyce to reach a mutual decision about whether hospice was right for her. I can still visualize our first meeting. Joyce was in the hospital, in the first bed, beside the door. She was frail and so thin I could have wrapped my thumb and index finger around her arm. She was only in her thirties, but her face reflected a person weathered way beyond her years by a stormy life. She was clearly in the final stage of her disease.
I introduced myself and asked about her condition. She boldly admitted, “I know I’m going to die soon.” Since she was so direct I decided to be also. I asked what she believed spiritually, about whether or not she believed in life after death and without saying a word, she reached for a Bible lying on her bedside table. She pulled a creased and stained piece of paper from between the pages and shared, “Someone at a half way house I was staying in gave this to me. I don’t even remember who it was, but I’ve held on to it ever since.” She handed it to me as if to say, “This is what I believe!” I don’t think I’ve read anything that better describes the value and power of God’s word. Joyce passed it on to me, now I’m passing it on to you.
The Bible: This book reveals the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here too, heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents. Owned it is riches, studied it is wisdom, trusted it is salvation, loved it is character, and obeyed it is power.
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center – Hospice and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 740-356-2525.