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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

When the Bell Tolls, Will You Be Ready?

Recently during vacation, I awoke at 4:42 a.m. in a hotel to a frightening mix of intermittent, deafening buzzing and pulsating, blinding light.

Panicked and confused, it took me a second to realize that the fire alarm was going off. As I headed toward the door just a few steps away, I couldn't find my daughter because of the strobe of the lights piercing the night like paparazzi flashes, so I called her name and turned to pull her out of her bed.

Because she was already up and moving, I banged my forehead against hers so hard I saw stars, which only heightened my discombobulation.

Once we were assembled outside on the hotel's lawn, I realized I was wearing a knee-length night shirt and felt a little exposed, although everyone else was in the same vulnerable situation. The irony is, being the worry-wart that I am, whenever I travel, I always sleep in exercise pants and a T-shirt just in case there is an emergency -- except this time. I've always expected the moment to come, I just didn't think it would be this time.

I noticed that those assembled on the lawn were in the same boat: taken by surprise, feeling exposed, no credit cards, laptops or phones to distract us. We were a pitiful homogeneous bunch, waiting around for direction from someone in charge.

This unnerving experience prompted me to remember that inhaling one moment doesn't guarantee an exhalation. Even when medical knowledge gives us months to prepare for our exit, there is a definite moment when we are here, and then we simply aren't. It seems when anyone passes, we are all taken by surprise as I was during the hotel alarm. We do not seem to truly believe, as Hemingway said, that the bell will toll for us.

And when we move to the other side, no acquisitions or accolades we've garnered will mean anything as we stand empty handed, waiting for the next step from the One in charge.

During this same vacation, on a hike, I came across a small family cemetery and snapped a picture of a tombstone of 20 year-old Martha Ownby (1868-1888), engraved with these words:

Remember friends, as you pass by
Once I was as you are now
But as I am, you all must be
And now prepare to follow me.

I don't mean to be morbid in this post, but you can see that I had some interesting thoughts about death on this vacation!

Basically, both experiences reminded me that I have the same inevitable moment ahead of me as all who have come before me: "In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye ... the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:52).

I want to be ready when the bell tolls for me. That is, as I trust in Christ for my eternal future, I also want Him to help me live today the life that fulfills His purpose for me. In essence, being ready means trusting Christ for my salvation and finding my way each and every day by living and moving and having my being in Him.

Questions to ponder:

We know that when we part this earth, we'll not take any material possessions with us, but we will indeed leave everything behind, including a legacy. If asked, could you clearly state your personal legacy for those you leave behind?

How often do you anticipate heaven? Oliver Wendell Holmes suggested that we don't want to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good, but that is perhaps a response to those who claim Jesus only to be assured a ticket to heaven without any significance applied to life on earth. When you think seriously about heaven, how does it inspire you to live today?

Please visit Linda Crow at her personal blog:

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Blogger Taking Heart said...

Life is fleeting.
Recently my daughter and her friend (they are 3) played barber shop in her room while the adults played cards downstairs. Noticing the silence... we checked on them only to find hair everywhere on the floor. I was devastated. My believing (but not walking) friend was hysterical over the loss of her only child's locks... said many hurtful things... and has not spoken to me since. I apologized, I pray for her... I pray for her daughter who is learning a twisted message. She was angry that I told her life was fleeting... and I was grateful they weren't hurt... that there are parents who's children have no hair for terrifying circumstances.
I am so thankful for the breath in my children's lungs, the hair that my daughter doesn't have is only hair. She is alive and I am blessed to have her right now.
Thank you for this post.
I want to be ready.

July 14, 2009 at 5:59 AM  
Blogger lori said...

testing comments....

July 14, 2009 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Great thoughts! Life is just a vapor - here one minute, gone the next. It always pays to be ready for the 'next.' How exciting when we are children of God to know the 'next' is heaven!

July 14, 2009 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

Wonderful post.

July 16, 2009 at 4:25 AM  

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It is good to hear from you... thank you so very much for leaving a note on the table. That makes us smile!

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