By Marilou Schnaderbeck
Within the last couple weeks I’ve been in contact with two individuals who are nearing the end of their life. Both, in my opinion, are much too young to die and they would concur. One has the certainty of eternal life (that is, going to heaven) and the other I am unsure where they will spend eternity. There is a profound sense of urgency in each situation.
For the one who I am unsure where their eternal life will be spent, I am the one who is experiencing the sense of urgency. In just a very short while, this now-breathing, present-in-this-life individual will either be in heaven or hell. Heaven, a very real place where our loving Father and Creator is waiting to surround them with unimaginable peace, beauty, joy and complete fulfillment… forever (keeping in mind my description is woefully inadequate) or Hell, another very real place where the Hater of all souls awaits those pitied individuals, for an eternity filled with fear, pain, loneliness, and unalleviated desperation. Again, I have not adequately portrayed this existence, but I am confident the horrors experienced on this earth is nothing compared to what is in Hell. With those being the only two options for this individual, I have felt the urgency to explain that they can be assured of eternal life and I don’t want to see them perish.
For the other, who has asked and received forgiveness for their sins (past, present and future) and has accepted God’s gift of eternal life, the urgency lies heavy on their heart. With time being so limited and precious and they have loved ones who lack the hope of eternal life found only through Jesus Christ, this lovely friend is clamoring to find the time and energy to accomplish all that they still see left undone and it frustrates them. Not only do they want to be able to see their loved ones in heaven with them (which is by far central in their mind), but they want to make sure that all that needs to be said is said, and all that can be done, is done…that every moment is used wisely; that every opportunity is taken advantage of. As I sat listening to this person my initial thought was…”In a short time this person will no longer be here. Her chair will be empty.” Then to hear the urgency in her voice for all that she wanted to do and say… was heart-wrenching.
In reflecting on these two individuals, God is teaching me many things, but mainly this… we all have a time line, it just so happens that these two precious individuals have been made privy to more of that information than the rest of us. I could just as simply have the same timeline as either of them, I just have not been given more of the details. That being a possibility, I need to take every opportunity to make sure all that I need to say is said, and all the God has put before me is handled in a loving and obedient manner. I need to look people in their eyes and invest in their lives. That what I ‘do’ during the day, like my job, is not an ‘end’ but a means to reach others I wouldn’t normally come in contact with. I need to see all souls with eternal eyes… with the full knowledge that they will spend eternity in either heaven or hell and I may be the only one who is put within reach that can share eternal Hope with them. It sounds overwhelming, but it’s not my strength, or love, that will do anything. It’s my Fathers.
Dear Father, stomp out my pride, give me strength to overcome my inadequacies, give me courage to risk rejection, pour love into me so I can love with abandon (and I’m not even sure what that fully means…actually sounds a little too charismatic for me…but You already know that) and help me to live with the fervency of someone who can see the end of their life more clearly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.