“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but AFTER THIS the judgment . . .” Hebrews 9:27
It’s been a number of years now since it happened, but I still remember it.
Everyone in Gahanna was stunned. Word of the tragedy was spreading quickly. It was being reported that several of our local high school students heading out for lunch that day had just been involved in a serious car accident. One student was dead. Four others were seriously injured. The news rocked our town.
At the time I had a friend who served as a Police Chaplain for the local force, and he was immediately summoned to help with counseling and notification of family members. By the end of that emotionally-draining day, he was spent. Later he sat down and recorded his observations and impressions and emailed them to me ...
“My day started off okay; it was a cold crisp Monday. After a quick eye exam, I stopped at a local McDonalds for a light breakfast and ran into an old friend there. We had a great time chatting for a few minutes and catching up on old times. I had another doctor visit later that morning, and everything was going well until my phone sounded.
“My phone never sounds unless something bad has happened. As a volunteer Police Chaplain, that phone is my link to them. I learned of the accident in Gahanna involving 5 students, one of whom had died at the scene, four others who were transferred to local hospitals. I was sent to OSU to give notice to the parents of one of the girls seriously injured in the accident. Their daughter had survived, but was in serious condition with broken facial bones, her left pelvis shattered, her left arm broken and mangled, and an assortment of bad cuts, bruises, and scrapes. The only good news was that her brain seemed to be working well.
“I stayed with the parents until I felt it was time to leave and went back to the local High School where the students attended. Later the other Chaplains, myself, and school counselors met with students to help them start dealing with the grief. In the morning we will go back to help more students and staff deal with loss and grief.
“My day which had started out so well ended with immense grief and tragedy. Tomorrow it will start all over again. I am amazed at our own mortality. One minute we are thinking of loading the dishwasher or wondering what to buy for lunch. 'Oh, I need to get some gas; I wonder what should I get so and so for Christmas'; the next second we are dead. That fast! That’s how fast the life of a 17-year old boy was gone, in seconds...
“I am happy to know that I am going to heaven; I believe that if I died today that’s where I’d be. I believe this not because of me or what I have done, but because of Jesus Christ, and HIS deeds for me. But I do not think that I am ready to die right now. Neither was this young man. He, like most of us, probably thought that he would live to be a hundred. When he left school for lunch, he probably never dreamed he would die and meet God and never see his school, books, locker, friends, or parents ever again in this life.
“So I’m thinking about this, praying about it, but I also want to do something about it!! What? I want to let people know that if their life is snuffed out instantly without warning, they can go to heaven.”
Friends, the best gift you could ever give those who care about you is the assurance that if you were to be suddenly taken from them, your spirit would be resting peacefully with your Savior, Jesus Christ, in heaven. I have enough experience to know that at that moment, nothing else matters more to loved ones than that.
So I feel compelled to ask...Do your loved ones have this confidence?? Do you??
This is not something that you want to be uncertain about. The Bible declares that this kind of confidence only belongs to those who have made the choice to place their trust in Jesus Christ AND HIM ALONE as their only hope of everlasting life (John 1:12; 3:16). Jesus stands alone as the only One with the necessary qualifications to be our Savior, including sinlessness (I John 3:5), being both God and man (Col.2:9), and being ALIVE. When he suffered and died on the cross nearly 2000 years ago, it was to take the punishment due for sins committed not by Him, but by others; namely YOU AND ME (I Peter 2:24). Imagine...He was hanging there as our Substitute!!
Amazingly, just a few days later hundreds of eyewitnesses saw him walking around, believing that He had risen from his tomb (I Corinthians 15:6)!! And millions of people around the world can testify that they have experienced His life-giving touch in their own lives.
How about you? Have you made that choice yet? Have you given up trying to earn God’s favor by your own efforts? Have you clearly seen yourself as one who has broken God’s laws? Have you repented of your sins? Have you surrendered your heart and life to Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Are you saved?
And what about those you love? Have your children made this choice? What about your close friends?
One man wrote, “Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently. Instead we often kid ourselves about death. But there’s a better approach. To know you’re going to die and TO BE PREPARED for it at any time...that’s a better way. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living it.”
So let’s be prepared. And let’s help those we love get prepared too!