For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! Ezekiel 18:32
No one gets out alive, but we do go out – in body bags, caskets, and vapors.
I’m 35,000 feet above the planet right now, rocketing through space at 400 miles an hour in a projectile with plastic overhead bins stuffed with briefcases, shopping bags and luggage. In the time it took to boot up my laptop, I exited North Carolina, flew over South Carolina, and entered Georgia. While waiting for my word processing program to load, I read the safety card and was struck by how in life, as on airplanes, we are called to serve as examples during times of emergencies. For example: Here are the rules for exiting this aircraft in case of a sudden disaster.
“If you are seated in a row with direct access to an over wing exit, you may be called upon to open the exit window and help other passengers leave this aircraft.” (Check. As a Christian I’m to be a guiding light, a helping hand in times of trouble.) “In order to perform this task, please make sure you are able to complete the following functions.” (Roger that. Thanks to years of repeated trials, stress-filled moments and chaotic circumstances, I remain calm during times of crisis.)
Here are a few of the tasks I may have to perform in case of an emergency:
“Locate the emergency exit.” (The exit door is right next to me, but the Door to life promises never to leave my side.)
“Recognize an emergency.” (On an aircraft this may involve a dramatic increase in cabin pressure, overhead bins snapping open and sudden loss of control. Christ, too, promised we would face sudden loss and stress-filled moments.)
“Comprehend the instructions of the crew.” (Twice on this trip I’ve asked the stewardess for clarification. “You mean all I get is this tiny bag of peanuts and a sip of water? You sure?” The same happens in my spiritual journey. Often I ask the Author of the instructional manual for verification of His message and meaning.)
“Operate the emergency exit.” (This is where it gets tough. I’m not ready to leave — at least not at 35,000 feet. But if someone must go first, let it be me.)
“Follow directions.” (Now it gets harder. I’ve never followed directions… in airplanes, in life, in my walk with God. If I’m to be the exit guy and an example for others, I need to improve.)
“Pass expeditiously through the exit.” (Okay, Lord. Here we go! I’m opening the door.)
“Follow a safe path away…” (From this plane, this body, this planet… and out we go.)
God takes no pleasure in death and yet, the shadow of death hovers over us. We worry, weep and do all we can to postpone our inevitable departure. And yet we die anyway. Today I received this email from a friend who’s sitting by her father’s bedside.
“Dad is still able to speak with us at times but he isn’t able to eat, so it’s just a matter of time UNLESS God intervenes. We’re open to that option! I explained to Dad that if he could not pass the swallow test and take nourishment he would more than likely be spending Christmas with Momma. She passed away 6 years ago. He quickly answered, ‘not this year!’”
No, none of us wants to die and still we do.
From my seat I can see up the aisle and toward the front of the aircraft; but not into the cockpit. There could be turbulence ahead and I wouldn’t know it. Or a big black hole waiting to swallow this jetliner. (I’ve heard about these black holes and they sound really, really scary.) All I know for certain is that I’ve placed my trust in the pilots, the architect of this aircraft, and the suppliers of its parts. When it comes to my life, I have placed my trust in the Pilot, Architect and Builder of my earthly body.
I’m not ready to go; but our lives, like this flight, will end. When it does I want to be able to walk — not just away — but toward something better.
Repent and live on. Or not. It’s your choice.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (Today’s New International Version, ©2005)
Copyright © 2011, Eddie Jones. Used by permission.