A message for God's people
by Jose Elizondo as told to Myra Holmes
On Jan. 6, 2011, I died.
Doctors completed a quadruple bypass heart surgery Jan. 4, which was deemed a success. My wife, Mary, and my sons greeted me as I woke from the anesthesia, and my healing seemed on schedule.
But two days later, without warning, my heart stopped for 30 seconds. As nurses worked furiously to revive me, I had an encounter with God that brought me closer to him and gave me a mission for my remaining days.
I was traveling down a pitch-black hallway or tunnel. I was upright but not walking. Rather, I was in midair, being pushed by a tremendous force toward a speck of light in the distance. I felt like I was a goner. I thought of my wife and children; I hadn’t even had a chance to say good-bye. I started praying: “Lord Jesus, I need your help. Please help me.” The force pushing me began to weaken and finally came to a stop.
I heard a majestic voice, so full of power and authority it could only be God, saying, “Go back and tell my people to get their act together and to start getting serious.”
Then I recognized the voices of nurses as they frantically worked to revive me, and I drifted to sleep. When I awoke, I called one of the nurses to my bedside and asked forgiveness for harsh words I’d said to her the day before. I thanked her for saving my life.
She took my face in both her hands and told me, “Jose, that wasn’t me, that was God Almighty. He sent you back to us, because he still has a lot of work for you to do for him here.” She was right; my life has forever changed. I’ve been given a message for God’s people. It’s up to me to deliver that message. If I don’t, I’m exercising disobedience.
As I’ve meditated on the message given me, I believe God used such simple words so that I could understand the message completely. I believe it is a message for all who fall short of full obedience—myself included. One of the nurses commented that, since I was a “bishop,” a church leader, I should already have it all together, but there’s always ample room for growth. The message is for all of us. We all fall short.
I visit so many churches, and I see so many injustices. Jesus looks at us just as he looked over Jerusalem so long ago, saying, “…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Luke 13:34). It seems to me that we have some tremendous leaders and many dedicated people, but we also have the other type, too—those who are putting out only superficial roots, not going deep enough to be able to get those roots into the Rock.
From now on, my messages will call us to full obedience, because that is what really pleases God. When we believe in God, we’re going to obey him. This is my commission, my mandate.
I would have never, never imagined that something like this would happen to me. But it did. As a result, I have grown closer to God, and I know that life is really, really precious—and eternal life is even more so.
Elizondo is the Pacific District Conference associate minister. He lives with his wife, Mary, in Sanger, Calif.
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