These last few weeks, I have been taking a battery of tests as a result of my annual physical exam. My strongly committed Christian doctor is quite thorough, especially if she thinks she is on to something. At one point she said, “Well, Dave, you know we won’t live here forever. We find comfort in knowing where we are going when we die!” Her words consoled and startled me at the same time.
Later in the week, I sat under the ministry of bestselling author and pastor Jim Moore of Dallas, Texas. He told a delightful story of young Doctor Riley who graduated from medical school in the late 1900’s. He was a brilliant physician and was offered many opportunities to work in the modern hospitals of the day. Instead, he decided to head out to the wild west and set up practice.
He settled into a small dusty town with mainly poor residents. The downtown area consisted of a few small shops and the dry goods store. Doc Riley rented a room above the dry goods store and turned it into a clinic. Then he placed a small sign downstairs that simply said, “Doc Riley is upstairs.”
For over 40 years he tirelessly served that community. Few people paid him for his services. Those who did brought a bag of grapes or apples as payment. One evening, Doc Riley got out his book of medical statements, and wrote “paid in full” on each delinquent bill. When he finished, he laid his head on the books and died.
The town was stunned. They gathered his remains and carried it to the old cemetery for his burial. Many folks testified of the sacrifices Doc Riley had made for the community. They all felt ashamed as they realized that he had died without enough money to even buy a headstone. The mayor said, “What shall we do? Doc Riley needs a proper marker.” A young girl said that she had an idea for a tombstone. She ran into town and returned with the sign that said, “Doc Riley is upstairs.”
Our lives will soon be spent. Forgive and forget. And be sure to make arrangements in Heaven as our permanent Home. Finally, let others know where you are going.