• Rev. Mark Tews

Do You Believe in Easter?

Edith Burns was a wonderful Christian who lived in San Antonio. She was the patient of Dr. Will Phillips, a gentle doctor who saw all his patients as people rather than medical cases.

His favorite was Edith Burns. One morning he went to his office with a heavy heart because of the news he had for Edith. When he entered the waiting room, there she was, early & waiting as usual with her big black Bible in her lap. She was earnestly talking to a young mother also waiting for an appointment.

Edith’s habit was to introduce herself saying, “Hello, my name is Edith, do you believe in Easter?” Then she would explain the meaning of Easter and many times people came to believe too.

Dr. Phillips' nurse, Beverly, had met Edith the same way everyone else did. Beverly had answered, “Yes, I do." But Edith pressed, “What do you believe about Easter?” Beverly then said, “Well, it’s about egg hunts, bunnies, church, and dressing up.” Edith could not leave it at that, and eventually led Beverly to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and what Easter was really about.

Dr. Philips told Beverly, “Wait till Edith is finished talking to that young woman before you call her into my office.”

Once in his office, Edith sat down and with one look at Dr. Phillips asked, “Why so sad today doctor? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying?”

Dr. Phillips said. “Edith, I’m the doctor and you are the patient.” With a heavy heart, he then told her that the lab reports had confirmed that she had an advanced case of cancer, and that she didn’t have much longer to live.

Edith said, “Why, Will Phillips, shame on you. Why are you so sad? Do you think God makes mistakes? You have just told me that I’m going home soon to see my precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and my friends. You have just told me that I'm going to celebrate Easter forever, and here you are having a difficult time giving me my ticket!”

Dr. Phillips thought to himself, “What a remarkable woman this Edith Burns is.”

Edith continued to receive medical care from Dr. Phillips. Christmas came and the office was closed through Jan. 3rd. On the 4th, Edith did not show up for her appointment. Later that day she called and said that things had taken a turn for worse and that she would be having to move her story to the hospital. She added, “Will, I am very near home, so would you make sure they put women next to me in my room who need to know about Easter?”

That’s what happened and as various women shared that room with Edith, they came to believe in Jesus Christ and what He had done for them at Easter. Everyone on her floor, patients and even staff came to know Edith and started calling her "Edith Easter." All except the head nurse, Phyllis Cross.

Phyllis wanted nothing to do with Edith because she was just a “religious nut.” Phyllis had been an Army nurse, a regular G.I. Jane. She had seen it all, heard it all, been married 3 times, was hard, cold, and did everything “by the book.” But she could not avoid Edith entirely. Eventually, the time came when she had to give Edith a shot. As she approached, Edith had a big smile and said, "Nurse Phyllis, God loves you, I love you, and I’m praying for you.”

Every time Phyllis came into Edith’s room, she heard the same thing. Then one day, she was drawn to Edith’s room like iron to a magnet. She went to Edith and said, “You ask everybody else if they believe in Easter, but you never asked me. Why not?” Edith said that she felt that the Lord had wanted her to wait until the very moment when Phyllis asked her question. Then Edith took out her Bible and shared the Easter story and Phyllis’ heart was changed.

On Easter Sunday Phyllis was on duty. She went to see Edith only to find that she had died sometime on Saturday night. Her hands were in her Bible upon her lap. Her left hand marked John 14 “In my Father’s house are many mansions … that where I am you may be also.” Her right hand marked Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear … there shall be no more pain … the former things have passed away.” Phyllis lifted her tear-filled eyes toward heaven and exclaimed, “Happy Easter Edith! Happy Easter!” Then she left the room, and upon seeing two student nurses, said to them, “Hello, my name is Phyllis Cross. Do you believe in Easter?”