How is that for a title?
The gentleman’s name was Ray, and he was the wealthiest man in Columbus, Georgia. Ray was a major shareholder in two large publicly traded companies and owned much of the commercial real estate in Columbus, Georgia.
Back in my restaurant days, Ray owned the fee title to a restaurant I leased. Ray never missed an opportunity to tell me how insignificant I was and how big he was. Ray’s own children had nothing to do with him when he was alive. Ray and I had met and talked on a number of occasions, which for me was good because he was literally the example of everything I did not want to be. See, examples are good for us even if they are bad examples because they teach us what not to do and who not to be like. So, when you intersect someone you detest, say to yourself that you will learn from this person.
Ray had cancer and was dying. He was at Emory Hospital in Atlanta in the late ’90s. I was coming back from Columbus one day and his assistant called me and said Ray “requested” I go by and see him at the hospital. I almost hated Ray and to be asked to go see him was offensive to me. As soon as I hung up the phone, God told me with pure clarity why he wanted to see me. Ray was dying and he wanted me to tell him about Jesus.
I took a deep breath and said “ok Lord, I don’t want to, but I will go.” I stopped on the way by a bookstore because I did not have a Bible with me and bought a Bible that I still have today. I went through the New Testament and marked the plan of salvation, so I would have it with me.
Have I told you yet that I hated Ray? Did I tell you that the last person I wanted to see in heaven was Ray? Just checking.
So, I went to Emory hospital and asked for his room; the nurse told he was in the executive wing where each room was like a hotel suite. When I walked into his room, I looked at him and he was reading his stock report for that day on all he owned and how much his net worth was. He held up the stock report for me to see; I told Ray that I was not there to talk about money, and he looked at me and said “I know.” He then asked me to come sit in the chair beside his bed. As I sat down, he told me to “scrunch” the chair up close so he could hear me. Already knowing why I was there and why he wanted to see me, I told him I was there to tell him about Jesus.
He looked at me and said “I know, and I want to know him.” I lead Ray through the plan of salvation like a little child verse by verse. When we got to the end, I asked Ray if he would like to accept Jesus. He held my hand and like a little child, he asked Jesus into his heart. The look on Ray’s face told me everything I needed to know and at that moment in his eyes, I wasn’t insignificant and Ray wasn’t big. Ray died three days later, and I know when I get to heaven I will see him there.
On the drive to the hospital, I came to terms with how I felt about Ray. I knew in that moment that if I didn’t go, I would miss something beautiful God wanted me to do. I may have been the only person in the world that Ray would have listened to about Jesus… I may have been his only hope of salvation. I decided on the way to the hospital that I could not live with myself if I denied Ray this final act of love.
It’s been many years since Ray passed away, but even to this day when I think of that event and even now as I write these words, the emotion of watching him take that final step toward Jesus still pierces my heart. I know I will see Ray in heaven one day. KT