And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. ~ Acts 2:21, KJV

Elton was a rather crusty, 60-year-old curmudgeon who entered my office in my third year of practice. His opening remark was: “You have a bunch of religious books in your office. Do you believe in God?” I assured him that I believed in Him with all my heart.

“How can you believe in God when you know man evolved through the Darwinian Theory of Evolution, and that eliminates the need for a creator?” Elton questioned. Remembering what H.M.S. Richards Sr., the venerated preacher, once told me of his retort to a query like this, I responded: “I don’t have that much faith.”

Elton came in two to three times each year, and each conversation started the same way. However, after about seven years of these types of verbal exchanges, he surprised me one day and said: “Maybe you could be right.” He seemed to be softening his position on evolution and God.

One morning at 5:30, he called me and said: “Doctor, I have some chest pains and it is difficult for me to breathe.” I sent an ambulance to his home while I started for the hospital. We arrived at the emergency department (ED) at the same time. An EKG revealed a serious problem.

A local cardiologist happened to be passing by the cubicle and I motioned to him. He stopped, glanced at the EKG and without a word left the room. Outside the patient’s vision, he motioned me to come. He looked at me and said: “Dr. Benson-he’s dead.” I responded that he obviously was not since he was still talking. But the cardiologist replied that the man’s life was down to minutes because the major coronary arteries were occluded.

When I returned to Elton’s room, he asked: “Am I dying?” I could not lie, so I had to tell him, “Yes, Elton, you are.” His response was, “Oh my God, my God!” He repeated it louder a second time, “Oh my God, my God!”

He then requested that I pray for him. I answered in the affirmative and then described Christ’s experience on Calvary with the dying thief, to whom He gave the promise of salvation. I pointed out to Elton that the thief had done no good work. I said: “We don’t lose salvation by what we do; nor do we lose it by anything we don’t do.” Personally, I believe we are saved only by grace, through faith, through the righteous blood of Christ. We only have to ask for salvation in our sincerest plea, believing that He can save our soul for eternity. We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that the sinless Christ took our sin and gave us His righteousness. What a trade!

At Elton’s request, I prayed for him a short heartfelt prayer, stating that he could rest in Jesus if he would only believe. The short prayer ended with Elton’s response, “I am resting in Jesus. I am resting in Je…” He never finished the second attempt at saying Jesus’s name.

I believe we will see Elton in Heaven.

– Douglas L. Benson, CME class of 1959, was a general practitioner in Eagle Rock, California, for 35 years before retiring. He and his wife ministered to many through their medical practice and the youth program at their church.