In the past week, I’ve watched two people die. Well, it’s likely the first woman was already dead when I saw her slumped over her steering wheel, halfway hanging out of her open car door, but that is beside the point. The immediacy of death, its inevitability and finality, have been at the forefront of my mind. Also, the sobering knowledge that none of us know the day of hour in which we will pass on to the afterlife. God is the one who numbers our days and holds our lives in His hands.
Friday morning dawned and I went about my daily business. I teach American Sign Language to a group of home schooled students each Friday before work. As I left the school, I just barely missed getting through a green light. After that, I got stuck behind an RV doing exactly the speed limit. In my impatience, I began to get frustrated. I didn’t want to be late for work, but at the rate things were going, I was going to be cutting it close. Then, the billboard which displays pertinent traffic information announced an accident at my exit, and subsequent slowdowns beginning a short way ahead. Again, my frustration began to rise. As I neared the back end of the traffic jam, I could clearly see the involved vehicles. I was about five or so cars back, but the traffic was at a complete standstill. I decided to get off the freeway at that point and go around. Little did I know at the time, the accident I saw was not the one causing the slowdown. This accident was the result of an individual failing to stop when coming up on the back end of the traffic jam. Her car was mangled; glass shattered, and turned the wrong way in the shoulder. As I drove slowly down the exit ramp, I turned to get a better look at the accident. I was not expecting to see the driver of the car, hanging out of the open door, clearly dead from this fatal crash. After getting over the initial shock, my day was put into serious perspective. Yes, I had a headache, but I was alive. Yes, my co-worker was pushing my buttons, but I was alive. Yes, my life is imperfect, but I am alive. Then, the most sobering thought came. God protected me. My loving and faithful father made sure I was not one of those vehicles, five car lengths in front of me. I was not the car that was rear-ended at 60+ miles per hour. I was spared by my sovereign Savior. Wow.
As if one encounter with death isn’t enough, I witnessed a patient pass away this week as well. I was again struck by our helplessness when it comes to death. No matter how much my team or the family, or even the patient willed to live, there was nothing we could do to cheat death. This individual was not planning for the pre-procedure goodbyes to be the last. That morning was not expected to be the last sunrise of their life. That was not the day they expected to meet their creator.
I sit here this morning with a heavy heart. Who will be next? I have a slew of unsaved friends and co-workers. What would I do if one of them passed away before I had the chance to share the Gospel? How would I go one knowing they are spending eternity separated from the goodness of God? I feel a renewed sense of urgency to share my faith. None of us are guaranteed our next breath. I need to make each breath count. I pray the Father uses my imperfect life and graciously uses it to draw others to Himself. I pray for boldness in the face of criticism. I pray my friends come to love Jesus even more than I do, and that God glorifies His Son through the transformation of their lives. I thank God for shaking me out of my complacency and rekindling my flame for the Gospel.