As a fire department chaplain, I have had the opportunity to see many life and death situations. For some it’s a near death experience where people get a wake up call to their mortality. However, as a pastor I’ve also witnessed many people having a near life experience. These are the times when people hear the truth of God, and know it to be true, but make excuses to put off their commitment to live under God’s blessings. Jesus shares a story that warns us of this peril in Luke 14:15-20 (take time to read it some time today). In Acts 26:28 Paul the Apostle has an encounter with King Agrippa who put off the truth in saying, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” Likewise, Governor Felix rejected the truth, though fearful, he asserted, “Go away for now; when I have a more convenient time I will call for you.” (Acts 24:25)
I’ve noticed that the older people get, the harder they seem to get. When people put off eternity for a more convenient time, it would appear that for many there will never be a convenient time.
Once on a ride along with the SDFD, we responded to a call where a 48 year-old man was having a heart attack. The paramedic asked him a series of questions, and with each question the gentleman’s countenance intensified with despair. “Does your family have a history of heart problems?” “Yes,” was his answer. “My father died of a heart attack.” Ensuing question, “How old was your father when he passed?” “He was 47.” “What is your age?” “I’m 48.” The paramedic continued, “Are you currently on any medications?” “I have a prescription for some heart issues, but my prescription ran out a week ago and I haven’t gotten around to renewing it.” Next question, “Do you smoke?” “Uh, yes.” “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much pain are you feeling?” To which he replied, “It’s like an 8 or 9. I feel like a car is on my chest.”
The questions continued, but what got my attention was looking into this man’s eyes. It was as if this was a quiz on the choices to make to die young. This man was living out his life choices rejecting the truths about which his doctor had warned him. His eyes were filled with terror, to the point where he clutched the paramedic’s jacket and pleaded, “Don’t let me die!” Fortunately, this gracious medic didn’t assert, “A little late to get serious about your health situation, don’t you think!” But I would imagine he thought it.
Think about it. Are you putting off eternal decisions that you know you should be attending to? Are you making excuses for a more convenient time to get serious about the things of God? Are you almost persuaded to align your life with the truth? Every day, the Lord calls out to us through circumstances, through people and through our consciences. And every day, we have opportunities to respond in faith and obedience. These are near life experiences. In Deut. 30:19 Moses pleads with an entire nation, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live!” Stop right where you are, survey your heart as to where you honestly are in relation to eternity. Choose life! It’s as serious as a heart attack? If you need help, meditate on 1. John 5:11-13, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”