By Randy Medina:
Four years ago I was rushed by ambulance to an emergency room. Four years ago I began a second life.
Hospital tests showed that I had late-stage cirrhosis of the liver. I had contracted Hepatitis C about 30 years earlier, when I was a teenager, and it had taken that long to have any noticeable effect on my liver. Now the effect was as severe as it was sudden. I was told that unless I received a liver transplant I would die.
From that day, the hospital became my second home. There I lived through some life-changing experiences–times of tears, times of acute loneliness and despair, times of soul-searching, times in dry and desolate places, and times in oases of joy. Best of all were my personal visits from Jesus, of which I had two.
The first question that came to me when I heard I was dying was, “Why me?” The second was “What have I done wrong to deserve this?” I didn’t ask those questions in an angry or self-righteous way, but because I wanted to know if there was anything in my life I needed to change. I wanted to become a new person.
Whatever it was, I told the Lord, I was sorry. I knew Jesus had forgiven me and lifted the burden of guilt when I received Him as my Savior, but I had made a lot of mistakes since and was truly sorry. I replayed every situation I had been in since Jesus had found and rescued me over 30 years earlier. I thought about every person I had hurt and every unloving thing I had said or done. I knew that when I arrived in Heaven the Lord was going to review my life, and I wanted to make that process as painless as possible by coming clean now.
I was put on a waiting list for a liver transplant–a wait that lasted 20 months. During that time, the illness began to affect my brain. I became confused and started losing my memory. At times when I was out of the hospital and needed to get home, I would get lost in my own neighborhood. It was frightening!
Then one night, after some serious soul-searching, a man appeared in my room. He turned to me and said that He loved me. I thought at first that I was hallucinating, but I wasn’t–it was real! I knew immediately that the man was Jesus. The room lit up–His love and warmth were that strong–and He kept telling me over and over that He loved me and would always be there. “No matter what you have done, I will always be there. I want to be your best friend.”
As He walked across the room, I thought He was going to bump into a chair, so I said, “Watch out for that chair!” He just chuckled. Who was I to tell Jesus, who with His Father created the universe, to watch out for a chair? What a joke! He had just finished telling me that He wanted to be my best friend, and that’s how it was–like a good laugh between best friends. He didn’t talk to me about my faults. He didn’t mention anything about my past. He didn’t say anything about my illness or whether I would be healed. He only said, “I want to love you, I want to be your friend, and I’ll always be there for you.”
I fell asleep, and when I awoke in the morning I prayed. “I don’t know what happened last night,” I told Jesus, “but if I wasn’t hallucinating, You are going to have to prove it to me.” And that evening it happened again. Jesus appeared in my room and said the same things. The message He was trying to drive home was that anytime I needed Him, He would be there. Since that experience, I can talk to Jesus just like I would talk to anyone else.
A month and a half after my transplant, I developed problems with my new liver and landed back in the hospital, in intensive care. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, and eventually sent me home. I was dying again.
After about a month and a half of intense suffering, I couldn’t stand the pain any longer and told Jesus that I wanted to go home to Heaven. “If You’re not going to heal me,” I told Him, “then take me home.” He chose not to do that, but He was with me when I needed Him most, just like He had promised, and He helped the worst to pass. I’m still here.
I don’t know what else Jesus has in store for me, but I know I’m not the man I was before. He’s also given me the best job in the world–telling people about Jesus and what He’s done for me. I may not be completely healed, but I’m happy to be alive and have a purpose, and I’m going to continue to love and trust Him.
My life is still on the line. I face death every day. All I have left is Jesus, but Jesus is all that matters. I wake up each morning and say, “Lord, keep me through one more day.” And when I get up and open the shades on my window and see the sun shining out there, I shout for joy. I want to get up and dance! Life with my best friend is precious!
Jesus really, really loves you too. He wants to be your best friend, your buddy. And He will always be there for you.