I got a call early this past Thursday morning from a neighbor of my brother, Dennis, telling me that she was at the hospital in Butte (Montana) where Dennis was having a major heart attack. The neighbor called back just a few minutes later to say that he had not made it. Wow! Dennis, who just turned 85 April 1st, had been very healthy all his life and was still golfing, bowling and playing tennis on a regular basis, and even played basketball weekly until they lost use of the facility where they were playing. He had also come to Libby each fall for many years and spent a week hunting with me (involving lots of hiking). Dennis did recently have a slight stroke while staying in Arizona with my sister and brother-in-law who go to Yuma each winter, but he recovered quickly and had returned to Butte and seemed to be doing well.
It is a reminder of just how frail life really is and how none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Psalm 90:10 (the one written by Moses) says: “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away.” James writes: “Come now, you who say, today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that’” (James. 4:13-15).
Jesus told a parable about a rich man who wondered how he would store his bumper crops since his barns weren’t big enough to hold it all. He decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones for his grain and goods. Then he would be able to say, “ ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ ” (Lk. 12:19-20).
Dennis, who was 14 years older than I am, played a key role in my life as I grew up. He was the one who taught me a number of sports and took me hunting and always gave generous gifts to me and to us and our children at Christmas. I had always considered him sort of “invincible.” But, he, and my other older brother, Arnold, had left home before my folks and sister and I were exposed to the Gospel and came to know Christ as Savior and Lord. During the years of continued contact with Dennis, I would try to share with Him about the need to trust Christ for eternal life and that just living a “good” life won’t do it. But, being the little brother (youngest in the family) I didn’t get a very positive reception. Although Dennis would always sit through our morning devotions when he stayed with us, he would never go to hear me speak (as pastor) or attend an evening Bible study. He did, however, attend services with my sister and brother-in-law in Arizona when he stayed with them. But whenever we would start talking about spiritual matters he would close us out. I just pray that he had responded to the messages of the Gospel he heard—and saw. If not, it is too late now. “Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). None of us will get a second chance. We must make a choice about Christ while on this earth and we don’t know how long that will be. In responding to one of his “comforters,” Zophar, Job said: “Since his (man’s) days are determined, the number of his months is with Thee, and his limits Thou hast set so that he cannot pass” (Job. 14:5).
God has set a limit on our number of days. Each of us has an appointment with death, and it is an appointment we will keep. We won’t be able to “reschedule”! So, it is so important that we are ready. Satan tempts folks to think, “I’ll consider Christ at some point, but not right now. I have some things I would like to do first. I have lots of time.” But, we don’t know that, and we don’t know whether or not we will even be in our “right mind” later. We could die in a car wreck or have a heart attack and be gone—just like that—with no time to consider the offer of forgiveness and eternal life through Christ. So, if you are reading this and you haven’t yet acknowledged your sinfulness and need for a Savior, trusted Christ’s death on your behalf and believed in His being raised from the dead to prove your sins are paid for, I strongly encourage you to do so now—before it is forever too late. Paul wrote, “Behold, now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). If God is speaking to your heart, don’t ignore Him; don’t think you have lots of time to consider His offer. Commit your life and your eternal destiny to Him now. If you have a friend or loved one who may not have yet trusted Christ, prayerfully share this “Wisdom of the Week” with them. It is urgent—a life and death matter.