Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28
"Wake-up calls" is the term applied to them--those close brushes with death which may come by being a participant in a near-fatal car crash, a heart attack, being a passenger on a plane which is hijacked, or waking to the smell of smoke in your house, or about anything when you know that death stalked you but you didn't fall prey to its grasp.
It happened to a pilot friend of mine when he was flying military jets in Greenland. The air was crisp and clear and very cold. He had just glanced down at the radar screen. The sweeping hand on the unit detected nothing of concern, and then, he happened to look through the narrow slit of a windscreen straight ahead. A wall of ice was in front on him which the radar unit didn't detect. He jerked back the control of the jet, banked the plane severely and barely missed the iceberg immediately in front of him.
It happened to my wife as she drove to the airport to pick up our son. It was raining, and whenever it hasn't rained for a while, a thin film of oil exhaust from thousands and thousands of automobiles can turn a wet freeway into a demolition derby. The traffic stopped ahead and as she touched her brakes, the little car began to slide, then rolled over and over, coming to rest upside down on the freeway divider. Here's the question for thought on today's edition of Guidelines: Do wake-up calls really cause you to wake up, to acknowledge that life is short and that death is certain, and to change the way you live? Do they cause you to be more loving, to take time to play with the kids, to be more interested in spiritual things? Or, do you walk away from that close encounter saying, "Whew! That was sure close," as you wipe your brow and quickly forget that you were only a moment away from certain death?
You are wise beyond words if you live with the certainty that life at its longest is short and that standing on the other side of life is a loving God who sent His son to show you the way to heaven.
Haddon Robinson tells that one order of Trappist monks has a monastery with a graveyard adjacent to it. Each day the monks solemnly traipse to the graveyard and stand for a few moments before an open grave--a solemn reminder that life is short and that we ought to make every day count. When one of their number dies, he's put in the empty grave and a new one is dug.
In an article entitled, "The Grim Shepherd," Haddon writes, "There is a way in which the king is like the lion, the dowager is like the dog, the Mafia boss is like the pit bull, and the farmer like the cow: they all die. They have that in common. But if the dowager, Mafia boss, or farmer dies with no more understanding than animals, then they are no better than the beasts of the field.”
A closing thought: Your good deeds, your money and power, and/or good luck or beauty cannot keep death at bay when God says, "It's time." But the important thing is knowing that you have made peace with God so that when you stand in His presence, you will hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Knowing Him as the shepherd of your soul and your Lord and Savior takes the fear of death out of your life. Wake-up calls can be valid. It all depends on what you learn through that near encounter with death.
Resource reading: John 11:1-44