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Tom Long, professor of Homiletics at Candler School of Theology, tells the story of striking up a conversation with a man on a plane. He said they shared the normal kind of nice chit chat, sharing what they each did for a living and sharing pictures of their families. When the man began to share with him this story:

He and his wife were parents of a 30 year old son who when he was a teenager had been in an auto accident and who for 30 years has lived in a nursing home in a vegetative state. And to tell you the truth, he said, my wife and I had stopped loving him, it is hard thing to say, I know, but love is a responsive thing and he no longer respond to us. We still visited him, we still cared for him, but we no longer loved him.

The day that changed was the day we went to visit him, an ordinary day, a nothing special kind of day, when we opened the door to his room to visit him we found a stranger sitting beside his bed. This stranger was wearing a clerical color. We knew he must be some kind of minister or priest. As it turns out he was the pastor of a the little Lutheran church from down the street who simply made rounds everyday in the nursing facility. When we went into the room he said this man was reading to our son a Psalm. I thought, "You fool he can’t hear you." Then he took my son’s hand and he had a prayer with my son, and I thought, "You idiot, he can’t feel that touch, he can’t hear that prayer. Don’t you know he’s just a vegetable?"

And then I realized, of course he knows, but he is viewing my son already in the glory of god, viewing my son as already healed, viewing my son as worth the love of Christ. He was seeing my son through eternal heavenly lens of faith. And it was then he said that we began to able to love our son again.

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