A Life Cut Short

She stopped by the office on Monday to bring lunch to her husband.  She ran into the building with his salad, paying no attention to the burning car in the parking lot.  She didn’t even notice the fire trucks.  She had one thing on her mind.  Her busy husband needed his lunch.

Less than two days later, she was surrounded by another fire.  This time the fire was at her home.  Her husband was out of town on business.  Home alone.  Sleeping alone.  She wasn’t even aware of the fire.  Smoke inhalation was the cause of death.  She died in her bed.  Asleep and alone.

She was busy with family and work and charity events.  She was always smiling and friendly with everyone.  She didn’t know a stranger.  She made time for her daughters and grandchildren.  She was loved by many.  Best friends to her inner circle.

Her life was cut short.  She was in the prime of her life.  But what is the prime of life when you don’t know how long your life will be?  Shouldn’t every day be the prime of life?  Especially when we don’t know our last day?

I didn’t know her.  I knew of her.  Oh.  I had met her a few times.  I had seen the joy of life radiating from her.  I had seen her happiness bubbling as she showed off her grandson.  I knew of her love for her husband.  But I didn’t know her.


Each of us will give a personal account to God.  Romans 14:12


I wonder if she knew her Creator.  I wonder if she had a personal relationship with God.  Because now she has come face to face with him.  Oh.  She was involved in volunteer work.  She was kind.  She was good.  But was she ready, without notice, to meet her final reward.  Was it a reward or was it a punishment?  Where is her soul spending eternity?

The thing is.  Life is not certain for anyone.  No one knows when their last day will come.    Maybe there will be a warning.  A diagnosis.  An accident.  Medical treatments.  Prolonged illness.  Or death could come as a thief in the night.  Maybe there will be time to accept Christ as Savior and experience forgiveness. But maybe not.  One never knows.

The one thing we do know is that all will die.  Each of us will breathe our last breath at the appointed time.  Unless Jesus comes back in our lifetime and takes his faithful to heaven, we will all die.  Will we be ready to stand face to face with God?  Will we hear the words we want to hear?  Welcome home, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your master.  Let’s celebrate.

Some will hear those words.  Many won’t.  Many will be cast to the depths of hell.  Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior will not face an eternity in heaven.   Oh.  There are those who don’t believe in hell.  There are some who believe if God is a loving God, why would he send good people to hell.

The thing is.  God loves everyone and wants everyone to meet him in heaven.  He gave us the ability to choose for ourselves how we live our lives.  With him or without him.  That choice determines where we spend eternity.  We choose.

I saw it happen just three days ago.  I was driving along a busy road, running errands at lunch time.  The squirrel was running fast and ran into the street.  I noticed it and had plenty of time to slow down.  The driver in the other lane didn’t.  Next thing I knew, the squirrel was not moving.  Oh.  It was in such a hurry to get somewhere, but time stood still for that little one.  Perhaps, he was rushing to store up for the winter months that are upon us.  No need.

Oh.  I know the squirrel doesn’t have a soul.  I know that squirrel will never have to answer for its actions.  I know that squirrel will never stand before his maker.  But I do know that his life was cut far short.

It can happen to anyone at any time.  Ready or not.  Time is running out for each of us.  The countdown has begun, and we never know when our time will come.  Are you ready?

 

Reason for Hope

I am by nature a pessimist.  Oh.  The glass is half empty.  Always.  There’s no pretty way around it.  I see the half of the glass that’s already been drunk.  It’s empty.  Gone.  That cold drink of water that I had craved.  Oh.  How it satisfied.  My thirst was quenched.  For a moment.  But it’s now gone.  Never to return.  It’s only a memory.  The rest of the water in the glass is inconsequential.  Doesn’t matter.  What mattered is what I no longer have.

Is that how it feels to live without hope?  Thinking the best of life is over.  Thinking that there are no more mountains to climb.  No more foes to conquer.  Thinking that you are the foe to be conquered.  Oh.  You may be standing now.  But not for long.  If there is no hope.

I don’t know what it’s like to live without hope.  That may sound strange for a pessimist.  But I’ve always had the thought that my best life was still to come.  Oh.  I know the day will come when that will no longer be the case.  But for today.  A girl can dream.  And I still dream.

So you may ask.  What is my hope?

Hope is the dream of something new

An old friendship renewed

Morning sun peeping through the windows

The win of a ballgame

A new love or a stronger love

The first glance at crooked teeth made straight

The first step once thought impossible

Fresh picked corn on the cob

A sight for sore eyes

Strength to pick up loose ends

The breath of forgiveness

A kiss on the lips

A warm chocolate chip cookie

A drop of rain on parched soil

The scent of wild honeysuckle on an evening drive through the country

The sighting of a rainbow in the clouds

Freedom to wave the American flag


If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.

1 Peter 3:15


But there is more.

My hope is in a Creator who knew me before I was born.

My hope is in the baby born to a virgin and laid in a manger.

My hope is in a boy of twelve wise beyond his years.

My hope is in the Light of the World  who leads me out of darkness.

My hope is in a Provider who meets all my needs.

My hope is in a Redeemer who died on the cross for me.

My hope is in a Savior who forgave my sins.

My hope is in Jesus Christ who will return to this earth someday to usher all believers into heaven.

My hope is in a Heavenly Father who is preparing an eternal home for me in heaven.

If I lose everything, I still have my God.

So yes.  I do have hope.

 

Interview of a Lifetime

Interviews are painful.  I get nervous. Sweaty palms. Dry throat.  Beating heart.  I wear my best clothes. Wanting to impress. Hoping I’m not overdressed or underdressed.

I prepare for each interview.  I study the company’s website, trying to familiarize myself with their business.  I review my resume so I can respond to their questions about my work history.  I read and re-read the job description, so I can be prepared to discuss how my experience and qualifications would match the position they’re looking to fill.  I even study interview questions and prepare my answers ahead of time.  I think of questions to ask a potential employer.  Oh.  I want to be prepared.

Days before the interview, I’ll drive by the office.  I don’t want to be surprised to learn on the interview day about unexpected construction delays or street closures.  I want to be prepared.  I want to be familiar with my surroundings.

Multiple interviews in one day. Multiple people in the interview.  Taking turns asking questions.  Feeling me out.  Would I be a good fit?  Do I pass the test?  Am I the right person for the job?

They see my qualifications. They read my resume. Would I fit in their organization?

It seems that I get tripped up by at least one question in every interview.  I walk away feeling like a failure.  Wanting to kick myself.  Thinking that’s the only question the interviewer will focus on.  Because it’s for sure the only one I can remember.

Sometimes I get called for a second or third interview.  I’ve even had to complete fake assignments while at the interview.  They’re testing me.  Can I really perform the job?  Am I telling the truth?  Do my actions match my words?


I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14


I’m in training right now for the interview of a lifetime.  Oh.  It’s not really an interview.  It’s a judgment.  One day I’ll stand in front of God my Maker.  My Heavenly Father.  My Creator.  The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Every day is a test.  Really.  It’s moment by moment.  I’ve made the decision to be a follower of Christ.  So the question is this.  Do I live like a follower of Christ?  Do my actions, my words, my thoughts reflect the attitude of Christ?

When my heart beats for the last time and I stand before God, will I pass the final test?  What will my judgment be?  Oh.  I’m not good enough.  But I try.  I do my best.  I mean well.  I study the Bible.  I pray.  I try to be kind.  and patient.  I try to show God’s love to others.  I tithe.  I give offerings to needy causes.  But am I doing all that God requires of me?

Some days, all I can think of is that one sin.  Why did I say those words to her?  Why did I have such a bad attitude?  Why did I eat like a glutton?  Why can’t I just be perfect?

There is one I will stand in front of one day.  He has seen all I have done. He has heard every word I’ve spoken.  He’s known my unspoken thoughts.  He reads my intentions.  He won’t have to ask any questions about my performance.  He will already know.  He will be my judge.

Will he offer eternal life or cast me to the depths of hell?

Have I repented of my sins?  Have I prepared for the big day?  Oh.  I know I need to be prepared.  The results are for eternity.

Go for the Gold

Winter Olympics.  Hockey.  Figure skating.  Skiing.  Ice dancing.  Speed skating.  Short track speed skating.  Luge.  Bobsled.  Curling.  Cross country skiing.  Ski jump.  Snowboarding.  Just some of the sports we’ll watch.  There will be gold medals handed out.  New idols will be crowned.  New heroes in the making.

The athletes. They each train in their sport. Working to master the art of athleticism. They each have chosen one sport to excel in. To best the best. To be crowned.  To be awarded the gold medal.

They work hard. Practice religiously. They sacrifice. More than most would even dare.  They stretch themselves.  Going beyond comfort.  Just to be the best.  They may only get one shot at the gold.  They need to make the most of it.

Mistakes will be made.  Mishaps.  Nerves will get the best of some athletes.  Some expected to win will not.  New champions will be crowned.  They will stand tall, right hand over the heart.  Listening.  Listening to their national anthem.  The flag is lowered.  In honor of their win.  In honor of their hard work.  In honor of their sacrifice.  In honor of their gold medal.  All nations will applaud.

They get nervous. They make mistakes. Their muscles stiffen. They suffer injuries. All for the sport.  All for the dream of wearing the gold around their neck.

Some will be cocky.  They just know they’ll earn a spot on the team.  They just know they’ll win the gold.  They may not work as hard as they should, because their self confidence has already crowned them winner.  They could be brought down quickly.  They may miss the goal.  They may fall down the mountain.  There could be someone better.  A new champion in the mix.  Waiting for their moment to shine.

Some are humble.  They do the work.  They’ve put in the hours.  They’ve listened to their coach.  They own the sport.  But they don’t announce it to the world.  They let their work speak for itself.  If it’s their time to shine, they will.  If their skills need more sharpening, they will do the work.  The struggle to grow stronger and perform better is real.  They think they could do more.


I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14


We’re all in training. We’re training for a spiritual prize. The top prize.  Heaven.  Heaven is the gold medal we’re training for.  Everyone should want it.  Second place is disastrous.

There is a workout plan that’s available for everyone.  Those who choose to accept it and follow it will receive that top prize.  There won’t be only one gold medal given.  Anyone who is anyone can receive it.

No.  It’s not a participation medal.  The medal must be won.  Fair and square.  Hard work.  Conditioning.  Sacrifice.  Suffering.  Hardships.  Setbacks.  Successes.  Growth.  Rewards.  All are part of the plan.  Given in different measures to each athlete working for the prize.

We’re racing toward eternity.  People.  Whether we know it or not.  Whether we like it or not.  Everyone will come face to face with eternity when they cross the finish line.  At our last breath, we will come face to face with God Himself.  He will judge each and every one of us.

I want that top prize.  I want the gold medal.  I want to spend eternity in heaven.  I hope you do, too.

If you haven’t made the decision to join the race for eternity, this link will tell you how you can join.

So Close to Eternity

Today on Father’s Day, I think of two men.  Two men who never knew each other.    Different values.  Different lifestyles.  Different beliefs.  Different worlds.  They both were fathers.  That appears to be their only common ground.  I don’t know why the first man even comes to mind.  But he does.

I remember when Saddam Hussein was killed.  Some witnesses videotaped his death.  His hanging.  I saw parts of the video on the news.  It was graphic.  It was disturbing.  It was unsettling.  He died.  People wanted confirmation that he was gone.  There it was.  Ugly and haunting.

He seemed so calm in the last moments of his life.  He wasn’t fighting his captors.  He was as a lamb being led to the slaughter.  Quiet.  Reserved.  Defeated.

I wonder if he had been drugged.  I wonder what he was thinking.  When they opened his cell door for the last time, did he know he was going to his death?  Did he know that in just a few short minutes he would be in eternity?  A never-ending place where he would reap the rewards or punishment for his life on earth.  Did he know?  Was he ready to meet his Maker?

If he knew, what was he thinking?  Did he try to make peace with God?  Did he ask forgiveness for the atrocities he had committed?  Did he shake his fist at God and curse him?  Did he believe in God? What were his final thoughts?

It isn’t mine to know.  It isn’t mine to judge.

The Lord knows the thoughts of man.  Psalm 94:11

I remember another man’s death.  I wasn’t with my dad when he breathed his last breath, but my sisters were there.  He had been on hospice for 3 months.  During those final months and days, my dad exhibited peace and contentment.  He knew he was dying.  He knew he was going to heaven.

Some days he would want to hold your hand and tell you that he loved you over and over.  Other days, tears would roll down his face.  At times, he would look up to the corner of the room with a far-off look.  He was seeing a place he had only read and heard about.  Heaven.  He would sometimes see people.  Others who had gone before him.  He would call them by name.

He had said he was waiting for my  mom.  He never wanted her to be alone.  He waited for her.  In those final three months of his life, he portrayed a sacrificial love for the woman he had pledged his life to 60 years earlier.  He kept his vow.  Till death us do part.

His heart was weak.  His body was frail.  His voice was soft.

His love was strong.  His faith was sure.  His eternity was secure.

During his final days, he would reach with outstretched hand to heaven.  Trying to touch it.  Wanting to enter those pearly gates.  As the end drew near, he would lie there with his eyes closed.  No longer speaking.  Not in this world.  Not in the next.  Hovering between two worlds with a smile on his face.  He was seeing heaven.

He had made peace with his life.  He had waited for his beloved to go before him.  He was ready to meet his Maker.

His last words.  So close.  So close.

What Brings Me to Tears

There are certain events and experiences that bring me to tears.  Events that make me proud.  Actions that show respect to power and authority.  Experiences that are personal and meaningful.

I think of a bride.  Walking down the aisle on her father’s arm.  See the white dress.  The bouquet.  The veil.  The vows.  The kiss.  The anticipation of a life together.   The respect of the sanctity of marriage.  My eyes well up with tears.

I hear the national anthem.  The Star Spangled Banner.  I see the flag rise above the crowd.  People stand.  Right hand over their heart.  Pride in our country.  Thankful for freedom.  Respect for the courage of battles fought.   My eyes well up with tears.

I have served on jury duty.  I have been a juror.  People in the court room stand each time the jurors enter and exit the court room.  All conversations and activities cease.  All eyes are on the jury.  The group of twelve who will decide someone’s fate.   They know the power of this group.  They respect the sacrifice the jury is making to perform their civic duty.  The weight of the decision is in their hands.  My eyes well up with tears.

I have driven in a funeral procession.  Loss of a loved one.  Near and dear to my heart. People standing along the street.  They stop and pay respect.  Remove their hats.  Stop mowing their lawn.  Stand still for someone they’ve never met.  Traffic stops and lets the stream of cars interrupt their busy day.  They respect the loss of a loved one.  My eyes well up with tears.

I think of the man who died on the cross.  For me.  For you.  I think of his sacrifice.  He died willingly.  To save every sin everyone born on this earth has ever committed.  So we can enter heaven’s gates. So we can see Him face to face.  His mercy is new every day.  His love and compassion are never ending.  His sacrifice is our eternity.  My eyes well up with tears.

In Christ Alone.