I believe God brings certain people into our lives at specific times--by his divine appointment. My husband, LeRoy, had a divine appointment while hospitalized and in traction for back problems.

Each day the nurse told him he would be getting a roommate named Eugene Matthews. But the new roommate didn't come. On the third day, he finally walked in, wearing street clothes. He had been in the intensive care unit having tests because of his heart condition. The nurses had told him to go to LeRoy's room and wait for further orders. He chose a highback chair near the foot of LeRoy's bed and began to talk.

He poured out his life story in graphic detail, explaining his rough life as a pipe fitter and welder. He had moved from place to place as jobs opened up and admitted he had done a lot of "carousing, drinking, and cursing" with the worst of the men. His first marriage ended in divorce. He hadn't had contact with his son in years.

Sure, he used to go to church, he said. But he hadn't been inside a church in forty years. Churchgoers were a bunch of hypocrites! Before long, however, he was asking LeRoy a lot of life and death questions. His heart condition had obviously caused him to question his own future. Did he have long to live? Had his life counted for anything?

LeRoy took him on a journey from the beginning to the end of the Bible, just talking. Mostly he emphasized Jesus' coming to earth and dying for those who would accept his forgiveness. He kept saying that Jesus provides a place with him in heaven for those who acknowledge him as Savior.

"What church do you go to?" Eugene interrupted LeRoy.

"It doesn't matter what church I go to. What matters is that you know Jesus. He helps us live our lives in a way that pleases him."

"Wait, tell me what church you go to!"

LeRoy finally told him.

After three hours of discussion, a nurse came in, "Mr. Matthews, the doctor has decided to discharge you. Why don't you call someone to take you home now?"

LeRoy shook hands with Eugene and said a short prayer asking God's blessings over him.

Three weeks later, on a Sunday night, LeRoy was home and able to go to church. The pastor made the following announcement, "If you were recently in the hospital with a man named Eugene Matthews, would you contact our church office? We received a letter this week requesting that his church membership be transferred to our congregation. But his wife called to say he died last night. She wants to contact the man who met him in the hospital."

We phoned the woman, and she told us an incredible story. That Saturday night, while holding her hand as they watched television, Eugene had quietly died. In the three weeks since he had been in the hospital, her husband had been a transformed man.

He had asked her forgiveness for years of verbal abuse. He had phoned his sister and asked her forgiveness. He had been in touch with his son from whom he'd long been estranged. He had quit yelling at the neighborhood children. Finally, every night he had asked his wife to read the Bible aloud to him.

She asked LeRoy, "Will you have a graveside service for him? We don't know a preacher. Eugene didn't have any friends, but maybe a few family members will come. I used to go to church myself before we moved here, but I stopped because he resented it so much. But I prayed for him every night. It was wonderful living with a changed man for the past three weeks. He told me you were the one who made him start thinking about how he needed to change."

I drove LeRoy to the cemetery for the graveside service. Briefly he shared what he had told Eugene in the hospital. We shook hands with the ten people who came, including his son. One neighbor said she used to pray for him because he cursed at her kids when they got near his fence. Remarkably, she said, he had recently laughed with and talked to her children.

We have visited his widow several times since her husband's death. "He found such peace just before he died. It was beautiful to watch the change in him," she said.

A divine appointment? Yes. Who ever heard of a hospital roommate who didn't stay long enough to pull back the sheets of the bed? Why hadn't the nurse told him to wait in the hall? In God's plan he chose not to heal Eugene's physical heart, but what a dramatic miracle he worked in his spirit and home--in answer to the prayers of people wishing his stony heart would soften.

When we wholeheartedly yield to God, he takes our heart of stone and in return gives us a heart of flesh. He puts a new spirit within us. You might say that we get a heart transplant (see Ezekiel 11:19).


From: Miracles Happen When You Pray by Quin Sherrer, 1997, pag. 67-70, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan