I opened my eyes to find myself lying on my back in a strange bed. Because my head was raised, I could see into the semidarkness beyond the bed. My first thought was that I was in New York’s Grand Central railroad station at night. Then I saw, sitting on the left-hand side of the bed, my mother. She was wearing the big, flowered overall and dusting cap in which she used to clean the house. Afterward they told me that I went straight back to sleep.

As I learned when I woke, I was nowhere near Grand Central station. I was in a hospital in my English hometown, having had surgery for a depressed fracture of the skull, which was thought to have damaged my brain. What I saw was partly a delusion. The ward did not really look like the photos of Grand Central station I had recently seen. The person keeping vigil by my bed had been a nurse in uniform.

I saw what I saw (if I shut my eyes I can see it now), but I was not seeing what was there. My shocked and battered brain was playing tricks on me. Reality was different from what I thought it was.

All of that happened in 1933, when I was seven years old. Why do I now hark back to it? Because it illustrates two truths that I find I have to stress over and over again when talking to Christians today.

In God’s Hospital

The first truth is that we are all invalids in God’s hospital. In moral and spiritual terms, we are all sick and damaged, diseased and deformed, scarred and sore, lame and lopsided, to a far, far greater extent than we realize.

Under God’s care we are getting better, but we are not yet well. Modern Christians egg each other on to testify that where once we were blind, deaf, and indeed dead so far as God was concerned, now through Christ we have been brought ...

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