Chris Rossbach / May 15th 2016 / Red Dragonflies and Other postcards from Heaven
It’s been a little more than 20 years that I entered a church one day, anticipating the usual, the ordinary. Little did I know back then that our God is neither usual nor ordinary. That day I learned what the word awesome really means. For me, God had something truly extraordinary in mind.
In those days I knew a young man, for whom the words obnoxious, conceited and arrogant wouldn’t have been far from the truth. He talked when he should have listened, he had preconceived notions and opinions when he would have been better served asking questions, and the bible he perceived as an insufficient document that was irrelevant at best even though he had never read a single page. That man was me!
I did not want to be in church, no, I was there only because of my wife’s recurring, quite debilitating eye injury that made her unable to drive. For the first few months of her ordeal, I sat in the parking lot for an hour and a half, stewing not only in the heat and humidity but in anger. Anger at my wife for having an eye injury, anger at the church for being there, and anger at God, who I believed did not even exist. After a while of this, I finally broke down and attended the church as well.
That particular day 20 years ago was a communion Sunday. By that time, I had already attended 8 or 9 such celebrations, which I considered empty and meaningless. I always let the trays with the bread and wine pass by. As these trays were approaching, I suddenly heard and felt a harsh, whooshing sound coming from my back that brushed my shoulder, neck and face. I froze stiff in fright, and the hair on my neck bristled. Nobody else had noticed it. Within 2 seconds which felt like a long, long time, my panic changed into awe and wonder, for I knew without a doubt that I had met the living God. In that moment, my querulousness and pride and self-reliance melted away and transformed into great joy and thankfulness. With tears in her eyes, my wife told me she had been praying for me that entire morning. I took the elements and was baptized 3 weeks later at the Easter sunrise service. My life has never been the same again.
As strange as that may sound, I had already been witnessing for the Lord for quite some time. Many of you know that I have worked as a pediatric cancer doctor for most of my adult life. Five years earlier, I had been taking care of a little boy named Mike, who had a cancerous tumor of his shoulder. It recurred after initially responding to therapy. Two days before he passed away at home, Jesus came to him and asked him to come to heaven on a rainbow. Mike returned from there and described his journey to his parents.
I told that story over and over, yet I never understood what it meant. I had only two eyes and therefore couldn’t see. That may sound rather strange. An old Armenian proverb says this: Every man has three eyes. One on the left side of the head, one on the right, and one in the heart. This eye of the heart was closed for almost 37 years. It took God to make me see! In hindsight I had been oh-so-blind despite two functioning eyes.
Around the time of my conversion, more stories from my patients and their families kept coming. And coming and coming. Many of you have heard quite a few of them over the years. Finally, one of my friends told me to write them down. It’s been a long, arduous journey, but I did. Red dragonflies and other Postcards from Heaven was published last month.
Allow me to tell you one story and give you a little flavor of the book. A three-year-old little boy named Colin had a bad cancer. After initially receiving standard therapy here in Tampa Bay, his parents chose further investigational therapy elsewhere. He had already received eleven infusions when he suddenly collapsed during the twelfth. He had no heartbeat and was not breathing. It became a horrible scene as his doctors had no equipment or medicines ready. His parents were kicked out of the room so they wouldn’t have to witness the increasingly frantic resuscitation efforts. The doctors could not intubate him because his throat was swollen shut. And they could not cut a hole into his windpipe because they couldn’t find a blade for the knife handle. When the parents were let back in the room, the responsible physician was “wailing” over his body. Colin had a heartbeat and was breathing again, but the parents were told that he would never be the same again because he had suffered brain damage because of protracted oxygen deprivation. He would never speak again or walk again.
As everyone was standing there in shock, Colin suddenly woke up and said three things. “I’m soooo hungry.” Then: “I want chicken nuggets with barbecue sauce!” And finally, after looking around the room, “Mom, is Jesus still here?” Six years later, this child is still here on earth and talking up a storm.
If you can’t see this Jesus and all his majesty and beauty with all three eyes, please consider asking him to make that possible for you.