“Are you going to die?”
Mr. Parker looked up from his computer screen as a familiar voice called to him from the doorway of his home office. “What did you say?” the man asked.
“Are you going to die?” his son Thomas repeated, his 10-year-old eyes filled with a combination of fear and sadness. “I don’t want you to.”
Mr. Parker shook his head as he motioned for his son to sit down across from him on the big yellow chair by the bookcase. “Why would you think such a thing?”
“Because,” the boy said, “I heard the doctor say that if you don’t do some stuff, you’ll die.”
“I heard him say that, too,” Mr. Parker responded with a sigh. “He wasn’t kidding around, was he?”
The man leaned back in his tall office chair. “My heart attack was scary to me, Thomas. I mean, really scary. But, I’m so glad the doctors were able to help me get through it. They opened up some passages in my arteries so my blood can move quickly in and out of my heart again. I feel much better now.”
“So, why did the doctor say that?”
“Well, I had the heart attack because I wasn’t taking good care of myself. I was eating a lot of greasy, salty, sugary foods that clogged my arteries with gooey gunk. I wasn’t exercising very much. And I worried a lot. All of those things can make someone’s heart very sick.”
“Did the doctor tell you what you needed to do so you wouldn’t … you know … die?”
“Yes, he did,” the man said as he picked up a folder from his desk. “He gave me this.” He handed a piece of paper to his son who slowly read the words written on it. “Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts. Don’t eat animal products like meat, milk, eggs, and cheese. Drink water, not soda. Go for walks around the block. Find ways to be happy and not worry.”
Thomas looked at his father. “Are you doing these things?”
“I am,” the man said firmly. “Every day. I’m doing those things so I’ll be able to live a long, healthy, happy life with you and your mother. Doing what’s on that list will help keep my heart from getting sick again. It’s like I’m building a brand new heart right here in my chest.”
“So, why did the doctor say you would die?”
“That’s his job,” Dad explained. “You see, doctors do two important things for their patients. Number one, they tell them what’s wrong with them—what sickness they have and why they have it. My doctor said I had heart disease. Number two, doctors tell people what they need to do to heal, to get well again, to become strong and healthy, to live many more happy years.”
The man thought for a moment. “You know, they do the same thing that we’re supposed to do in this world, Thomas. We’re supposed to tell people, ‘Watch out! Sin will hurt you, make you sad, even make you sick’ Then we can say, ‘Instead of doing that, do this!’ And we show them all the beautiful instructions in the Bible for living a healthy, happy life.”
Thomas nodded slowly. “It’s like we show them how to have a new heart?”
“Exactly!” Dad paused. “And Thomas, thank you for worrying about me. But, I’m OK. I’m not going to die anytime soon.”
The boy smiled and stood to his feet. “I love your new heart, Dad,” he said.
“And my new heart loves you, Thomas,” his father responded with a smile.
Charles Mills is the author of more than 50 published books and over 300 articles. Mills began his career at Faith for Today and the Adventist Media Center in Newbury Park, California. For the past 35 years, he has been an independent media producer, writer, and radio/television host.