When one is suffering from the painful and embarrassing consequences of a non-healing wound it is extremely difficult if not impossible to appreciate any benefits as a result. Such was the case for Alex Johnson when he presented himself for treatment at the Wound Care Center of Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.I was privileged to serve as one of the medical directors of that clinic during the years 2000-2005 and Mr. Johnson became one of my patients during my tenure.
Mr. Johnson was in his mid-80’s in age and had been seeking treatment of his lower extremity wound for several months prior to coming to our clinic. He was brought to the clinic by his daughter, Betty Ann and son-in-law Eddie Bradford. When I first met him we made a connection stronger than a usual doctor-patient relationship. He had a wonderful, sweet countenance and smile, and conversation with him was very easy because of his outgoing personality. He was the kind of man whom I felt I had known for years after just one 30 minute patient encounter.
In the practice of wound care it is often necessary to see the patients regularly and frequently in order to facilitate reversal of their wounding processes. Most patients with chronic wounds are middle-aged or older and have significant other medical issues. Diabetes is a common co-morbidity and peripheral vascular disease which is usually present either delays or prevents a normal healing process. Mr. Johnson was dealing with both problems, and because his efforts to heal his wounds were failing he was becoming very discouraged. Despite the circumstances and frequent medical visits he had a gentle and cheerful spirit, and I knew whatever plan was initiated he would be compliant.
I had never met Mr. Johnson nor his family but immediately recognized his son-in-law, Eddie Bradford. Any loyal Razorback football fan who is over 60 years in age remembers Eddie as an excellent football player from the early 1950’s. He played for Coach Bowden Wyatt on a team which had only 25 players in 1954 and became known as “The 25 Little Pigs.” Eddie was a starter on the offensive line, and the team was so good they won the Southwest Conference championship and played in the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1955 against Georgia Tech. I wrote about my experience in Dallas on that New Year’s Day when I was privileged to go with some friends to see the game. (A Panhandler At The Cotton Bowl; June, 2014).
Eddie and his wife Betty Ann love the Lord Jesus and were perceptive enough in loving Mr. Johnson to know he did not have a personal relationship with Christ. Eddie told me in a private conversation at the clinic during the initial visit he and Betty Ann had witnessed to him “for years”, but something in his belief system had prevented him from receiving and embracing Christ as Savior. Eddie said they would really appreciate any witness I might be toward their beloved father. I began praying God would open the door to allow His Spirit to convict Mr. Johnson.
Because of the severe nature of his wound it was necessary to see Mr. Johnson at least once weekly, and by the third visit he and I had developed a strong and trusting relationship. On the second visit I challenged him before I saw him again to strongly consider the truth of God’s love for him; how he had created him uniquely and desired more than anything to forgive him, cleanse him and give him a new and eternal life. I told him the full measure of God’s love for him was in the well-known verse John 3:16! Whatever change took place in Alex’s mind happened between his 2nd and 3rd visit, because on his next visit to the clinic he was totally open to the Gospel. I told Alex God had been waiting patiently to enter his life because this was the reason He had sacrificed His only Son for sinners like Alex and me. It was a gift from Him freely given to us at the costly price of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. At this point in our conversation Alex stopped me to ask. “On what basis do you claim all of this is true?” I said, “Alex, I’m basing everything I have told you on God’s written Word, the Bible. I believe every word contained in it is the truth, and I’m staking all of my future on it!” Alex said, “I can buy that.” I said, “Alex, why don’t you bow your head, ask God to forgive you from your sins, enter your heart and save you?” He said, “I would like to do that!” Alex prayed a simple prayer of faith that morning, and God answered it and entered his life and heart as He promised. The Bible says there was great rejoicing in heaven over Alex Johnson that morning!
I didn’t see what took place in heaven, but I sure experienced the joy, the tears and hugs from the Johnson and Bradford family that morning in the Wound Care Clinic. As a wound care physician for many years I know how difficult it is to see any benefit from a severe life-altering wound, but when I see Alex Johnson again in glory at the feet of Jesus, I will ask him, “Was it worth it?” I can imagine his response might be something like, “Look around here and look our Savior Jesus Christ! What do you think?”