Tim McConnell, the hospice chaplain, lowered the bedside rails so he could lean in closer.

“I’m not ready to die.” Dale gripped the minister’s arm. “I wish I could know definitely for sure that I’m going to heaven.”

Tim leaned in even closer. “Before our visit is over, you will know – definitely for sure – if you’re going to heaven. Okay?”

Dale smiled faintly. “I’ve been a pretty good guy. Was a good husband – not perfect, but I loved Bettye.” He coughed. “I wasn’t much of a church guy, but I gave what I could to charities.”

“Dale, being a good guy and giving to charities doesn’t mean we automatically go to heaven,” Tim said. “Have you heard about Jesus dying for your sins?”

“I remember hearing about John 3:16 when I was a kid. Don’t remember much of what it said – something about God “… so loved the world.’”

Tim pulled out his pocket Bible. “Here’s the verse: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’”

“So that’s all there’s to it?” Dale struggled to catch his breath.

“Actually, there’s a lot to it. Jesus was humiliated, beaten, scourged, and then crucified naked – for our sake. They pounded nails into His hands and feet. He hung in excruciating pain for hours until He died – for our sins.”

The two men stared quietly at each other.

“The thing is … Jesus did nothing to deserve that shame and suffering.”

Dale broke into a fit of coughing, and Tim handed him a cup of water from the nightstand.

“I’d like to read you one more verse.”

Dale nodded.

“Romans 10:9. ‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’”

“We have to believe,” Tim continued, “to put our faith and confidence in Who Jesus is and what He did for us, not in the good things we’ve done.”

Dale wrinkled his brow.

“It comes down to this. Are you able to say that Jesus is Lord? Will you recognize Him as the ultimate authority over your life and all things?”

“Yes,” Dale paused. “I recognize Jesus as Lord.”

“Do you believe He took your sins on the cross, died for them, rose from the dead, and is alive today?”

He nodded. “I do. I believe.”

“Then, according to God’s Word, you are going to heaven when you die. Welcome to God’s family!”

Dale smiled – the most definite for-sure smile he had ever smiled. “Thank you.”

Sheryl H. Boldt is the author of the blog, www.TodayCanBeDifferent.net. You can reach her at SherylHBoldt@gmail.com.