As I walked into room 410 at St. Joseph/PeaceHealth Hospital in Bellingham, Washington I saw Ellis Massey sitting up in a chair next to his bed. Not bad for a man a century young.
Ellis says he’s not suffered in life until now. In fact, up until now he’s lived on his own, driven himself around town as needed, and even in recent years been strong enough to skydive. Yes, skydive. Ellis is a man who has embraced life and lived it to a fullness we would all do well to emulate.
But Ellis’ physical health over the years is not the most remarkable part of his story. Far more noteworthy is how Ellis came to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ at the age of 93. Ellis’ story speaks to the loving prayers of his son for a Dad’s salvation and a faithful local church doing the same. Year in and year out the band of brothers meeting at 7:30 a.m. for Saturday morning Bible study would pray for Ellis, convinced that while today is still called today, God is able to save. And save he did.
For the last three years at Immanuel Bible Church, I’ve had the privilege of leading the Saturday morning Bible study with Ellis in attendance. His mere presence has been a tremendous encouragement as he’s reminded me never to give up on a prodigal loved one, but to persevere in prayer trusting in the One who is able to raise the spiritually dead (Cf., Rom. 4:17).
After visiting briefly, I asked Ellis if I could read from Romans 8. Ellis smiled and said, “Of course.”
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When I finished reading Ellis pointed to the white-board behind me and smiled. On it was written Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Ellis was way ahead of me. We then shared a time of prayer. Ellis closed our prayer with a beautiful confession of his trust in the person and work of Christ for him.
As I shook Ellis’ hand and got up to leave, he told me that he’s ready to see Jesus. “I’m ready,” were his words. And with his clear confession of faith, I know that he is.