Please permit this article to contain some personal reflections with “for-us-all” life applications.
One recent Sunday afternoon, my wife and I walked through the cemetery, in which many of my relatives are buried. We were looking for three particular stones. We found them. But another stone captured my attention and stopped me in my tracks. It opened up a flood-gate of memories for me.
The gravestone was the small flat stone of a teenage friend of mine named Johnny. He drowned when he was 14 years old. For some reason, I do not remember the details of his drowning. I do remember that it happened during the week of our church Summer Vacation Bible School. Johnny was there one day in our teenage class. The next day, came the news of his death. Amazing to me was the date of his death on his stone. It was exactly 50 years ago this Summer. I could not believe that it had been that long!
As I thought about memories I had of Johnny, a question loomed up in my mind. Why did Johnny drown and not me? I think he was a better swimmer. Why did Johnny not have the opportunity to finish High School, or get a full-time job, or get married and have a family (like I have had over the years)? Of course I don’t know the full answer to this question. Deuteronomy 29: 29 says “the secret things that belong to the Lord.” As I thought about the “Why”, some answers from Scripture were brought to my mind. Here are some answers to this “Why” question.
The sovereign God of the universe has a plan for every person. Jeremiah 29: 11 states that God knows the thoughts (plans) He has for everyone. Read Psalm 139: 14-16. These verses teach, among other things, that God uniquely designs each person in his/her mother’s womb, fashions the body, and His book writes out all the days of a person’s life. (The Hebrew word in verse 16 “continuance” (KJV) is the same as “days”.) We all are aware that some lives are long, some are short.
I do not know if Johnny had trusted Christ Jesus as his Savior at the time of his death. So I do not know if his spirit, departing from his body, ascended to Heaven to be with the Lord as a believer in Christ (II Cor. 5: 6, 8); Or if his spirit descended into Hell, as a non-believer in Christ (Luke 16: 22-23). These things are just part of the “unseen” things which we now cannot see from this side of the grave (death).
I do know that, by the grace of God, I have trusted Christ as my Savior. As a boy, I believed the Gospel – “Christ died for our sins…and rose again the third day, according to the Scripture, “I Cor. 15: 3, 4). I simply acknowledged my sin and trusted Christ’s death for me in payment for all my sin. Scripture says, “Repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1: 15) and “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”, (Acts 16: 31). I John 5: 11-13 means a lot to me as “assurance of salvation” verses.
I do know that, by God’s grace, I have been “chosen by Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before Him” (Eph. 1: 4). He chose me. I did not choose Him, to bear fruit for Him (John 15: 16). I have been chosen by Him to be one of His witnesses and one of His servants (Isa. 43: 10).
?How about you? Have you trusted Christ alone to save you from the penalty of your sin (Rom. 3: 23, 6: 23)? If yes, has it made a difference in the way you think, talk and live, in the way you pray and read your Bible? If your answer is no, or I’m not sure, ponder II Cor. 13: 5 “Examine yourselves, whether your are in the faith.” and II Cor. 6: 2 “Now is the day of salvation.”
If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, be encouraged – you have been chosen by Him to know and serve Him. (I Pet. 2: 9)
Why Johnny and not me??? A pastor-author wrote – “Don’t waste your life”! And, a plaque on my desk says – “Only one Life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” My challenge to you – Don’t waste your days! Trust Christ and Live for Him. (Prov. 3: 5, 6)
DRA (John 3: 16)