On Friday, March 2, 2000, while we were still early in Lent, I was experiencing my own Good Friday. I was lying in a hospital bed. It was late in the evening, because I can remember how dark and somber the room felt. It was just my mom and me in the room; the steady flow of visitors throughout the day had ebbed. My last visitor had been the worst. It was the doctor. He came by to show me the lesions in my brain and to explain that there was a good chance I had multiple sclerosis.
I didn’t know what that meant, or what it would mean for the future, so with my mom there, I cried and prayed, “God, what does this mean? What do I do?”And when I opened my eyes, there stood Rick Ross. Now, I imagine most people in Rick’s position would have assessed the situation and politely excused himself. It was obvious I was in a lot of distress, and the last thing I wanted was a visitor. But Rick stayed.
You see, Rick was used to distress and hospital rooms. Only two months earlier, he had lost his wife Linda to pneumonia. She was a sweet lady, only in her 40s, and beloved by the church. Rick had shown incredible strength during the whole ordeal, and managed to be an inspiration and comfort to us when we were supposed to be doing that for him. So there Rick stood, hands in his jacket pockets, watching me process my news. I tried to gather myself as best as possible and but on my hospitality face, but Rick didn’t care. He simply said, “God sent me.”
“Did you know,” he continued, “that Linda was in the room right next to this one before she died? I pulled into the parking lot tonight, and I didn’t think I’d be able to come in. But God told me to, he said I had to see you. So I came in the hospital. But when I got on the elevator, I couldn’t bring myself to push the button for this floor, for Linda’s floor. But I had to. And then I saw your room, and I saw her room, and I knew I couldn’t walk into a hospital room again. But God told me it would be OK. So here I am.”
Indeed, there he was. I didn’t know what kind of journey I was facing in my life, but I couldn’t imagine it being any more difficult than the journey Rick had just made to see me. I remembered my prayer, “God, what do I do?” And I remembered Rick’s words, “God told me it would be OK. So here I am.” In the midst of my darkness, Rick walked again through his own Good Friday experience to bring me a word from God.
For us, Holy Week can be just another week, or it can be a time when we acknowledge that as we walk the dark roads of our lives, someone is there walking with us, someone who knows what it’s like to be forsaken, to be in pain, to lose someone you love. As we walk with Jesus through his ordeal, we are reminded that Jesus also walks with us. Thank you, Rick, for reminding me of that. God told me it was going to be OK. So here I am.