The story is told of a little boy, who, many years ago, was diagnosed with a severe heart defect. This was before MRI’s or CT scans or other advanced technology. But his heartbeat was irregular, and he was not expected to live very long. His family happened to live in a small city that was the home of one of the nation’s most respected heart surgeons. This doctor was a crusty old character, near retirement, and usually refused to work with children. After hearing the pleas of the boy’s mother and father, he finally conceded to take the youngster as a patient.
After the examination, the old doctor knew that surgery was required and that it would be very risky. There was something badly wrong with the boy’s heart. The old man told the boy, “Son, I’m going to try to fix your heart. I will have to cut it open, and I’m not sure what I will find there.” The boy brightened when he said this, and said, “Don’t worry, when you cut open my heart, you’ll find Jesus, ‘cause he lives there!” The surgeon was silent. Dealing with life and death on a daily basis had embittered him horribly, and he had long ago abandoned any pretense of faith.
As they prepared for the surgery, the doctor was determined that the little boy understand what was happening, so he repeatedly warned him of the risks involved in this surgery. Each time the boy smiled and said, “Don’t worry. When you cut my heart open, you’ll find Jesus, ’cause he lives there.” In this process the bitter old doctor began to have his own heart touched by this little boy. He was so ill! But he was so happy! On the day of the operation, just before they wheeled the boy into the operating room, the doctor tried one last time, and said, “I want you to be brave, because when I cut your heart open, I’m not sure what I will find.” Again, the boy beamed at him and said, “Don’t worry. When you cut my heart open, you’ll find Jesus, ’cause he lives there.”
After the surgery, the doctor went to the waiting room to give some horrible news to the parents: the boy had died on the table and he had been unable to save him. They were people of great faith, but now they were extremely distraught. As the father grasped for something to explain what had happened, he asked the surgeon, “Doc, when you opened his heart, what did you find?” And the hardened, cynical old man gave the slightest of smiles and said, “I believe I found Jesus.” And for the first time in many years, his tears flowed, too.
Nebraska Christian College