A Short Elevator Ride with a Hospice Nurse

This post is written by Deborah Howard, an RN and CHPN (Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse), who divides her time between family, writing, lecturing, and working as a hospice nurse.

How often do you pray that God would use you as His “vessel”? When faced with the opportunity to serve, do you step up to take full advantage of the situation? Or perhaps you tell yourself you’re not the right one for the job; that if you had more time, you’d be glad to do it, but you’re running late . . . and so forth.

We can always rationalize decisions to step back from service if it falls outside our comfort zone. But should we shrink from opportunities to demonstrate the love of God?

There are reasons He leaves us here on this earth after He saves us: 

  • We are to study His Word and learn of Him. 
  • We are to reach others for Him. 
  • We are to serve our brothers and sisters in love. 
  • We are to raise our children as His representatives. 
  • We are to glorify Him through our lives, our service, our attitudes, and our worship. 

Those are just a few of the tasks we are assigned to do as children of the King. When you pray to be used as a vessel, make sure you mean it, because when you actually look for ways to serve, you’ll see opportunities everywhere as you go through your day. Sometimes it just takes a second to reach out and touch someone with godly tenderness.

I was working in the hospital the other day, dressed in my scrubs, stethoscope around my neck, carrying my binder. I stepped on the elevator just behind another lady. We were going to the same floor and were the only two on the elevator. 

She asked if I were going to see a certain man on that floor. I answered, no, he wasn’t one of my patients. She said he was her husband, “Only fifty-three years old and he’s dying any day now.” At this point, she began to cry. “I don’t think I can go through this. I can’t watch him die!”

“I’m so sorry,” I told her, moving closer. “I’m a hospice nurse so I’ve been in situations like this a lot. I know you can get through this by God’s grace. It will likely be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but you can do it.

“They offered me hospice,” said the woman, “but I turned them down.  I don’t want anyone else taking over. I have to do this myself.” Putting my arm around her, I explained that hospice doesn’t “take over,” but they would give her some much-needed support and assistance. “They’ll help you get through this.” Tearfully, she thanked me and said she would call them, after all. 

Some might say it was “lucky” she rode that elevator with a hospice nurse who could encourage her and empathize with her pain. I don’t say that. In this busy hospital, it was unlikely for the elevator to go up seven floors without stopping, with only two people inside. I know in my heart God arranged this meeting. I’ll probably never see this woman again, but now I wonder if she was the reason God placed me there at that very moment. And it didn’t take more time than it took to ride seven floors in an elevator! 

Look around. You’ll be amazed how many opportunities you’re given to touch another person’s life, perhaps with a warm smile, a kind word, a friendly gesture. If you pray that God will use you as a vessel, watch out . . . He just might do it! 

About the Author

Deborah Howard

Deborah Howard

Deborah Howard, RN, CHPN (Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse), and her husband, Theron, live near Little Rock, Arkansas, where she divides her time between writing, editing, and lecturing. In 2017 she retired from nursing to write full time.

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