I came across an article I had saved from several years back of a weird news story, reported by the Associated Press from Ashland, Mass.
Police officers were called to the scene of an apparent suicide, where a 39-year old woman was found slumped and unconscious in cold water in a bathtub, having overdosed on pills. Neither the officers nor emergency medical technicians detected any signs of life in the woman, and her body was taken to a local funeral home.
Then’s when things got interesting. About 3 1/2 hours later, funeral director John Matarese heard a gurgling noise coming from her body bag. “It scared me half to death,” he said, perhaps stating the obvious. “The girl was alive!”
He quickly unzipped the body bag and held the woman’s mouth open to keep her air passages clear. By the time emergency technicians arrived, she was breathing. She was hospitalized, and at the time of the article was in good condition.
“From everybody’s observation, more time had elapsed than would have allowed resuscitation,” said the Town Administrator in defense of his workers’ near fatal slip-up. But one Massachusetts doctor who was an expert in hypothermia resuscitation, saw things differently. “The fact that they didn’t take her to the hospital, just assumed she was dead, is the big mistake,” said Dr. Murray Hamlet. “People have to understand that cold, stiff, blue people can be resuscitated.”
I laughed when I first read that last quote. But then I realized how quick we are to write people off spiritually sometimes, and leave them for dead. All signs seem to point to hopeless, and not worth the effort of resuscitation, spiritually speaking. They may be caught up in the ugliness of sin, or looking for love in all the wrong places, or just completely disinterested in their eternal destiny.
Fortunately for all of us, God never gives up on us. He loves us, whatever our condition. And I believe our ministry to the broken and hurting people around us is one of spiritual resuscitation, breathing the life of God’s grace into their desperate situations. That’s what the ministry of the gospel is all about, even for cold, stiff, blue people, and other sinners.
Let’s share the hope of Jesus with our communities this week, and invite the prodigals around us to come home and sit at the Father’s table as worship together with our faith family at Shelby Crossings. I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.