Dr. Will Phillips was a gentle physician who saw patients as people. He loved them all, but his favourite patient was Edith Burns.
One morning Dr. Phillips went to his office with a heavy heart because he had discovered that Edith Burns had cancer. He knew that she had an appointment that morning.
When he arrived in his office she was already there. She had her big black Bible in her lap, and she was earnestly talking to a young mother sitting beside her.
Edith had the habit of introducing herself in this way: “Hello, my name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?” Then she would explain the meaning of Easter. Often, they would accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Called into the doctor’s office, Edith entered and sat down. When she took a look at her doctor, she said, “Dr. Will, why are you so sad? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying?”
Dr. Phillips said, “Edith, I’m your doctor, and you are the patient.” And then, with a heavy heart, he said, “Your lab report reveals that you have cancer. And, Edith, you’re not going to live very much longer.”
“Why, Dr. Phillips,” Edith replied. “Shame on you! Why are you so sad? Do you think God makes mistakes?
“You have just told me I’m going to see my precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and many of my friends. You have just told me that I’m going to celebrate Easter forever. And you are having trouble giving me my ticket?!”
Within a few weeks, Edith had reached the point in her illness where she needed to be hospitalized.
“Dr. Will, I’m very near home now,” she said, “so would you make sure that they put women in the room with me who need to know about Easter?”
They did just that, and one patient after another shared the room with Edith. Many of them became Christians because Edith shared with them the story of Easter and what it means to those who believe.
Everybody on Edith’s hospital floor, from staff to patients, started calling her Edith Easter – that is, everybody except Phyllis Cross, the head nurse. Phyllis said she wanted nothing to do with Edith because, “She is a religious nut.”
Phyllis had been a nurse in an army hospital, and she had seen and heard it all. She was the original G.I. Jane. She had been married three times. She was hard, cold, and did everything by the book.
One morning the two nurses who were to attend to Edith were sick and could not work. Edith had contracted the flu, so Phyllis had to go in and give her a shot.
When she walked in, Edith had a big smile on her face as she said, “Phyllis, God loves you, and I love you, too. I’ve been praying for you.”
The head nurse frowned. “Well, you can quit praying for me. It won’t work. I’m not interested.”
“Well, I will pray,” said Edith. “I have asked God not to let me go home until you come into the family.”
“Then you will never die,” snapped Phyllis, “because that will never happen,” and she left the room abruptly.
Every day when Phyllis Cross walked into the room, Edith would smile and say, “God loves you, Phyllis, and I love you too. I’ve been praying for you.”
Then one day, Nurse Cross found herself drawn to Edith’s room like a magnet draws iron. Edith said, “I’m glad you’ve come today because God has told me that today is your special day.”
Phyllis said, “Edith, you have asked everybody here the question, ‘Do you believe in Easter?’ But you have never asked me.”
Edith said, “Phyllis, I wanted to many times. But God told me to wait until you asked. And now that you have asked…”
Edith Burns took her Bible and shared with Phyllis Cross the Easter story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. She asked, “Phyllis, do you believe in Easter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He wants to live in your heart?”
“Oh, I want to believe that with all of my heart, and I do want Jesus in my life.”
Right there, Phyllis Cross prayed and invited Jesus Christ into her heart. For the first time Phyllis did not walk out of a hospital room; she was carried out on the wings of angels.
Two days later Edith asked, “Do you know what day it is?” Phyllis answered, “It’s Good Friday.” Edith said, “Oh, no. For you every day is Easter. Happy Easter, Phyllis!”
On Easter Sunday Phyllis Cross came into work. She went down to the flower shop and bought some Easter lilies. She wanted to give them to Edith and wish her a Happy Easter.
When Phyllis walked into Edith’s room, Edith was in bed with her big black Bible on her lap. Her hands were in her Bible, and there was a sweet smile on her face.
Her left hand was on John 14:2-3… “In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you…”
Her right hand was on Revelation 21:4… “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Phyllis realized that Edith was gone. She looked at her body, then lifted her face toward heaven. With tears streaming down her cheeks she said, “Happy Easter, Edith. Happy Easter!”
Then Phyllis left Edith’s body, walked quietly out of the room and over to a table where two student nurses were sitting. She smiled and said, “Hello, my name is Phyllis Cross. Do you believe in Easter?”