Monday, December 9, 2013

Choices

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness;
 but is longsuffering to us-ward,
not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9
(KJV)


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Sorry to say this is not a fluffy, fun, or "feel-good" kind of post...
but, nevertheless, it is the burden God has placed upon my heart.
So, I write it with a heart that cares...deeply...about everyone whose eyes may read it.
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I slowly turned to leave the dying soul lying on the bed in the gloomy Hospice room.
I knew it would be the last time I had the chance...
to pray, to reach out, to love this one who now seemed to be suspended...
hanging in space...between time and eternity.

As I walked through the doorway, I knew I had done my best.
I had fervently prayed.
I had faithfully visited.
I had genuinely cared....and shared the Gospel message in every way I knew how.
Now my duty was done...at least concerning this particular soul.
Now there would be no more visits.

My heart was heavy.
I never got a real clear witness...as to where this soul would be...
the moment it crossed over the fragile, oh, so fragile threshold!
That delicately-thin line between this world and the next.
I longed to hear the words,
"I'm ready.
I'm at peace.
I have repented of my sins,
asked Jesus into my heart."

The words never came.
So, I will never know.
I am not the judge anyhow.
My opinion amounts to little.

As my leaden feet forced steps down the lonely corridor,
I spotted her for the first time.

She stood, oxygen tube in place, fragile, frail, withered....
dangerously thin.
Her mind seemed a million miles away...from that hopeless place.

"I wish I could talk to them", she mumbled,
as I neared the doorway that supported her leaning, weak, little body.

"Who?" I asked.

"Them."
She pointed to a large window across the hall.
I followed her gaze to a group of young people...
huddled together, clustered in a circle...
billowing smoke rising above their heads...
exiting through their lips from lungs that were thus far healthy and unaffected.

"I wish I could talk to them.
Warn them.
You know, if they could just see me....like this, you know?
Maybe they would stop.
Oh, well, they probably wouldn't listen anyway."
The poor soul was gasping, struggling hard to force words from a throat 
evidently long-accustomed to the inhalation of smoke.

I looked at her.
Studied her until I realized I was staring, 
and maybe that wasn't the most polite thing to be doing right then.

The deep lines on her face revealed suffering.
She seemed to be in pain, as we spoke.
Just standing there...
too late to undo the damage...
past the point of human cure.
It hit me with force that the poor soul was just lingering....
waiting to die like the one whose room I had just left.
Just like all of the other patients there.

I finally mustered a response.
"You know, you're right.
They probably wouldn't listen."

And why would they?

After all, it wasn't them standing there...
the icy, cold hand of death so near you could almost feel its chill.
Their season of life and the old woman's season 
was literally years and worlds apart.
They were still enjoying life.
Death was hovering so near to her, I wondered if it would happen as we stood there.
They were vibrant, healthy, full of spunk.
She could barely force air into her lungs.
It took everything she had to utter a word.

After a moment's pause, I walked away.
Left her there...still staring out the window....
watching the smoke cloud the atmosphere.

My heart sunk even lower.
As I made my way towards the front door,
I wished with all my soul I could give her back her health.
I wished I had the power to perform miracles....
to go around and visit every, single person in there, 
reverse every bad choice they had made throughout life,
and restore them to a clean slate, along with a clean bill of health.

I felt helpless.
Because the truth is, we all reap what we sow.


Every, single one of us.
Not one of us is exempt from harvesting the exact seeds we have planted.


I won't harvest your crops, and you won't reap mine.
What we sow, on an individual basis, will grow
and will determine what we reap.


And what is most important is that this life is not the end.
Death is not the end.
If it were, we would live, die, and be done with it.
But, there is an eternity to face, and a Creator to meet.
And the choice we make concerning that is the one that matters most.

How near to eternity those souls!
How many of them had made their peace with the One they would soon face?

I got in the car to drive home, my thoughts still on her...
her words still echoing in my head.
I can still see her standing there looking at the ones outside.
I don't suppose that image will ever leave my mind.

If only the young would take heed to the old!
If only they would listen to the voice of reason.
If only they would learn from the mistakes of the ones who have lived longer than them.
If only they would watch their examples...both good and bad...
and make choices that lead to an opposite...and better end.

We tend to live for the moment when we're young.
Middle age and old age seems so far away.
We always think we will change directions before its too late.
We convince ourselves that our case is different...
that it won't happen to us.

But, it does.
We all age...if God is gracious and extends life.
Mom used to tell me that the only way to avoid getting old is to die young.

None of us want to do that.

Thinking about that day at Hospice reminds me of the George Jones song, "Choices",
written by Billy Wayne Yates and Michael A. Curtis.



Click here if video doesn't load.

I don't suppose truer words were ever spoken, 
nor could I ever begin to relay the message more eloquently.

"Living and dying with the choices I've made."
Isn't that what I am doing?
And you?
When we get a little age on us, the reality of it all starts to sink in.
Losing parents is the starkest reminder of our own mortality.
Saying good-bye to them drives the point home even harder that none of us will live forever.


Consequences from the choices we make, both good and bad,
have far-reaching arms.
They not only affect us, on a personal level,
but they have an impact on all of the ones who care about us.
And what about the ones who are being influenced by our choices?

No man is an island.

Unfortunately, we can't do much about past choices we've made.
As the old saying goes, we make our own bed, then we must lie in it.
Plain and simple.

But, what about that eternal choice I mentioned above?
What have you decided about that, my friend?
It is easy to push it to the back of our minds when we are young,
when life is full,
when health is abundant.
Dying is the farthest thing from our minds, while life is happening.
But, should it be?

On Thanksgiving Day, I called my brother and sister-in-law.
As soon as David mentioned his step-daughter coming up from Georgia
for the holiday, I knew by the sadness in his voice that something was wrong.

"It has turned out disastrous", he said.

"Why?  What happened?" I asked.

He went on to explain that on the day before Thanksgiving her son, Collin,
(who had stayed behind in Georgia)
was out riding motor bikes with his 15 year old best friend who had just come into town.
The friend was unfamiliar with the terrain and didn't see a creek in their path.
Something happened, and he was thrown into the air,
landing face down on an embankment.
His life was snuffed out....just that fast.
Unbelievable.
The family is left in complete shock...
hardly knowing what hit them.

David said the boy was supposed to have gone hunting with his Dad that day,
but had decided to go riding with Collin instead.

Life can change....in an instant....no matter how old or young we are.

Death does not just come to the old...and dying....and waiting souls in Hospice units.
Sometimes, it comes to the young...and vibrant....and healthy, unsuspecting ones.

That's why it pays to make that all-important choice now...
today...while life is here and the mind is clear.

God leaves the choice to us.
He has never forced anyone to accept His gift of salvation.
We can choose to take our own way and spend eternity forever separated from Him.
It is all up to you and me.

Jesus isn't willing that any should perish.
That is why He became the living sacrifice we all needed to purchase our redemption.
He just isn't willing...that any of us would be lost...without hope.

Every choice we make matters...some have inconsequential repercussions,
others are much more critical.
But, this choice....
this choice is in a class by itself.

At the end of the day,
when the dust of life settles...at whatever age that happens to be...
this choice will be the one that will have mattered the most.


Don't ever believe you are too far gone....
that there is no hope.
That God has rejected you forever.
That you are banished from eternal life.

No matter how unwise your past choices,
or how irreversible they are,
thank God, this all-important choice is one you can reverse...should you need to.
As long as breath is in your body,
blood is flowing through your veins,
and you are mentally conscious...
the Spirit of God can deal and convict and draw you to Christ.

Jesus said,
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him..."
John 6:44

Is He drawing you?
Do you feel His wooing?
Have you already made the right choice?
If this were your last day on earth,
should something seize upon you suddenly...tonight....
where would your soul spend eternity?

I say this, not to scare you....just as a gentle warning...
from my heart to yours....
that there is a Hell to shun, and a Heaven to gain.

This burden is heavy upon my heart.
Standing next to dying men and women has made me realize that death is real.
Leaving a room where the death rattle is the only audible sound,
driving home with the weight of stark reality,
then being called back about an hour or so later....
to the same room to deal with a silent corpse and the heartbroken
has taught me that no one is exempt from leaving this world.

Dying is not a choice.
Everyone reading this will die....including me.

Where we will spend eternity is a choice.
The choice is in our hands.
God placed it there through something called free will.
Whatever choice you make concerning everything else will ultimately matter to little...
even the bad choices, along with their ugly repercussions.

But, this choice, my friend....this choice matters most.

Which choice will you make?


8 comments:

  1. A wonderful encouragement. May God use it for His glory!

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    1. Amen and amen!! Thank you so much for stopping by today. So happy to "meet" you! Love, Cheryl

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  2. Your post is somber, but interesting as a reminder that choices in life will catch up to us especially if they are wrong choices. We must be ready to meet Jesus because we do not have a promise of tomorrow. Thank you for your awesome post shared here at "Tell Me a Story."

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    1. Oh, how true! Life is so fragile, and death is certain. But, that all-important choice is what will land us in a better home! :) Thank you for link-up, Hazel. God's peace be with you in the new year. Love, Cheryl

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  3. Thank you for linking up with Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday! God bless!

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  4. What a great reminder of how important the choices are that we make each day, and that we have one choice that stands out in importance above all the rest - What will I do with Jesus? I needed this reminder as I work on the lesson I'm teaching this Sunday in my ladies' Sunday School class.

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    Replies
    1. You are so right, TaMara. So thankful to have you stop by today! YES, always feel free to use anything or any inspiration you find here. It is not mine...all glory be to God if any good comes of what is written. God bless your ministry to the ladies not only this Sunday, but every time you stand there before them with the Word. It is a heavy weight God has asked you to carry, but His grace is always sufficient! I so appreciate you and your walk with God. Love, Cheryl

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