Mark set in the cold waiting room of the doctor's office waiting to get the results of the test he had the previous week. He had been sick along time and was worried what the results would be; even now he could feel the nausea coming on. He thought to himself how awful it is to be waiting for news that you dreaded to hear. He was nervous, thinking, "Surely, this news cannot be that bad, I am only twenty-three years old."
It was about fifteen minutes when the nurse opened the door to call him back, "Mr. McFadden, the doctor will see you now."
The nurse did not lead him back to a room, (he felt like the cowardly lion going before the great and powerful Oz), but she took him straight to a door. Mark looked up to read the plaque on the door, it did not read Oz but Dr. Hollister. He entered through the door to see Dr. Hollister sitting behind his desk with a stack of papers.He was an elder man in his sixties; he could have retired long ago but refused, insisting on helping others.
"Thanks nurse, you can leave now." Dr. Hollister directed. He pointed toward the red velvet covered chair in front of his desk. "Have a seat Mark."
Mark felt his stomach go into knots as he placed himself in the chair. He wasn't one to show a lot of emotion, so he started the conversation.
"Give it to me, Doc. How bad is it?"
"Well, Mark, how long you had these symptoms?"
"I have been sick for awhile, the first time I noticed it was probably a year ago."
The doctor went through a series of emotions, starting with disappointment and ending in sadness.
"I wish you would have come sooner, Mark."
Dr. Hollister folded his arms on his desk as he continued his uncomforting message. "You have stage-four cancer, Mark. There is not much I can do for you. I would say you have six months, at best."
The color fled from Mark's face as sweat beaded up on his forehead. Dr. Hollister noticed and grabbed for the waste basket where Mark preceded to vomit until it turned into dry heaving.
The doctor rose from his desk and leaned up against the book shelf behind him and looked at Mark. Here before him sat a young man with the frame of a skeleton, aged beyond his years. The thick dark hair was all that remained of his youth.
Mark turned toward the doctor as his hand was stretched toward him with a moist towel; he wiped his mouth and asked, "Can it be treated?"
Dr. Hollister looked at Mark with hopelessness, "I have to be honest; the cancer is too far advanced for medical science to treat. The cancer is already moving into your liver. It would be a waste of money."
Mark buried his head in his hands and wept uncontrollably. Dr. Hollister placed his hand on Mark's shoulder in hopes of comforting him. Mark felt a strange sensation as the doctor touched him, but he soon tossed the thought.
Mark took some time and got a grip on his emotions and grabbed a Kleenex from the desk and wiped his eyes. His voice was stern with anger, "You know, Doc, with all the money my family has it doesn't help one bit at a time like this."
Dr. Hollister returned to his desk and leaned back in his chair, "Can I ask you a serious question, Mark?"
"I don't see why not."
"Do you believe in God?" Hollister asked.
Mark looked stunned. "Well…I guess so. I mean me and my family go to the Church of Tomorrow every Easter."
The doctor knew what that meant, "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?"
"I'm not a fanatic, if that's what you mean." Mark said, grinning.
The doctor reached in his desk and brought forth a card and handed it to Mark. "Give this some thought."
Mark took the card and read it.
Upper Room Ministries
2451 Sycamore Drive
Albany, Ny 12204
come see, if you don't see miracles, don't come back
Mark looked confused, "Tell me you don't believe this quack. I've seen him on television praying for people. My father said those people are paid."
The doctor lowered his eyes and half shook his head. He knew Mark's father was a successful business man, but he pitied the man, in all his money, he had great ignorance.
"There are fakes out there." Hollister began to explain, "If there are counterfeits out there that means there must be the real thing somewhere. I have been going there for a little over five years now and I can't begin to write down all the miracles I have seen. I sit on the front row so I can see the miracles as they happen. I could tell if it were fake."
Mark looked doubtful. "Well, whatever you say."
The doctor pulled a slip a paper out of his pocket and handed it to Mark. "Here are some scriptures for you to study. If I were you I would go home and consider it tonight." The doctor looked at Mark seriously. "You might want to give it serious thought. What do you have to lose?"
Mark thanked the doctor and left, laughing at the thought of going to that church. Yet, all the way home that last question the doctor asked kept pounding in his head, like flying monkeys were the ones doing the pounding.
The atmosphere at Nick's bar was as smoky and as loud as every Friday night. The crowd was starting to chant and shout for the opening act to begin and getting more and more impatient and drunker by the minute.
Tabitha Wilkins, an African-American woman, was backstage with her friend since early grade school days, Lilly Hardin. Lilly was about to take the stage and Tabitha was there for her friend, she had a feeling Lilly would be a Country Music star soon.
"You ready, Lilly?" Tabitha asked.
"Yes, as ready as I am going to be." Lilly responded. Though she was about to perform, Lilly appeared downcast, and Tabitha knew why.
"Would you get her off your mind?"
"I can't," Lilly said, "this is the third time I have played and invited her every time." She looked at Tabitha pleadingly. "Could you go check for me?"
Tabitha sighed, "Alright, you stay here and get your head together."
"Oh, thank you, Tabs. I owe you one."
Tabitha went back to where the curtain opened up to the audience. Sure enough, there was the reserved seat empty; for the third time. Lilly's grandmother had once been a singer, but she was now a church going woman. She had renounced the world, saying Jesus would not want her in a place like Nick's Bar. Tabitha always thought she was a little loopy, but never expressed her true feelings to Lilly.
Tabitha went back to Lilly with the sad news that Lilly was already expecting. Tabitha had not been raised in a Christian home. In fact, her family did not bow to any gods for they were atheists. They thought of Christianity as a crutch people leaned on whenever time got tough.
Lilly wanted her grandmother there, yet she was afraid to talk against her grandmother for her decisions. Her grandmother raised her in the fear of the Lord, and she would not talk against a true believer.
The music stopped and the roar of applause came up from beyond the red curtain. She stood there awaiting Nick's introduction.
"Ladies and Gentleman, here is the one we all came for tonight!" The future of Country Music right here in New York, Lilly Hardin!"
Lilly took her first steps out onto the stage, pushing her long blonde hair back behind her ears. As she did her grandmother's voice echoed in her ears in the form of a verse she had given Lilly when she had told her that she was pursuing a music career (Mark 8:36).