And yet we are so often taken by surprise, caught off-guard by death and by those who are dying. It was one of those months for me. Watching in horror as a smoldering commuter train, just miles from my living room, with sides and roof peeled back like a banana, hides the bodies of the unsuspecting. Those who were unsuspecting that this was their last day of life...last kisses, last phone calls, last words, last breaths. Taken aback by flood waters rising after the swirling Ike came through and left a deluge which tore asunder, drowned, and swept away those who stayed. Caught off guard by a phone call in which frightened father explains what the doctors found: cancer in his seven year old boy. Or the mother of four, two years my junior, fighting cervical cancer and wondering if life is worth this staggering effort and pain. Stopped in horror as I watch ravenous fires eat up everything in their path. Moved to tears by my boy-man, racked with sobs over his dead dog, wondering if he was happy while living, or feeling abandoned while dying.
And I think to myself: we are all dying.
We are all marching on the road to death. I may reach my destination in 40 years, or 4 years, or 4 days. But never fear, I will reach that destination. As will you. And the commuter next to you on the road, and your boss, and your husband, and your children.
And lest we forget why we are all moving methodically toward our final breath: SIN. That's it. One small three letter word easily sounded out by my little beginning reader. SIN. That concept that is shunned in our politically correct, can't-we-all-just-get-along, toleration-dependent society. The unpopular word that makes us feel somehow less than we deserve. Not less than we are, my friend, just less than we think we are.
You see, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Another one of those easy-peasy words to read. But, ah, the significance of that one little trio of letters. None of us is outside that group. We are all the same. We are all sinners. Stained with the same consuming disease. All.
Ever had a prideful thought? How about a selfish one? Looked at someone with lust in your heart? Spoken a harsh word? Had an unkind thought? Been lazy?
Yep. Me, too.
We all fall short of the standard to which we should desire. The glory of God. The perfect, sovereign, omnipotent, righteous God who holds the reigns of our days in His hands. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:29-30
In so acknowledging our lowly state before a holy and perfect God, we are forced to make a decision. Or, at the very least, acknowledge that there is a decision to be made. An either-or. A yes or no. Black or white. No shades of gray here, folks. Acknowledge that we need a Savior, who can take our deserved punishment for us, and in so doing, allow us to stand perfectly clean before the holy throne. Or brush it off as the insanity of the weak-minded, those without the mental capacity to think for themselves. One may choose the wide path which leads to destruction, or the narrow path which leads to life. Two options. One choice.
And, friend, there may not be a tomorrow in which to make this choice.
Tomorrow it may be you who unsuspectingly takes your last breath, makes your last phone call, hugs your children for the last time. It may be me.
When my numbered days on this spinning ball draw to their predetermined end, will it matter if the Dow ended up or down? Will I care if I have a fixed-rate or an adjustable-rate loan? Will it matter how well-read I am, or how smart my kids are, or how well loved I am by others?
I think you know the answer to that.
“Naked a man comes from his mother's womb,
and as he comes, so he departs.
He takes nothing from his labor
that he can carry in his hand.” Ecclesiastes 5:15
It all stays. None of it accompanies us into eternity. Only us, coming before the Creator of the Universe. He is not impressed with net-worth. Or self-worth. For He alone is worthy to be praised. Jesus will judge. And we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He judges rightly. How will you be judged?
There is your choice.
From one terminal patient to another...
what will you choose?