https://ralphhoweministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/IMG_1062.jpeg 750 1000 elizabeth https://ralphhoweministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ralph-howe-ministries1.png elizabeth2020-03-17 23:31:482020-03-17 23:31:48YOU MIGHT DIE TOMORROW
The Coronavirus and its current form called Covid-19 has certainly suddenly ended what we consider to be “normal life” here in Canada and around the world
International flights (except to London) have been cancelled
Schools and universities are closed for March and maybe into April
Events being cancelled …
Sports leagues cancelling a substantial number of games and even, in several situations, the rest of the season
Playing to empty stadiums and arenas or not playing at all
Airlines cancelling all international flights
Countries closing their boarders
The world has seen substantial change in the past two and a half month…
And the thing that has struck me the hardest and that I think about most frequently is the number of people who are suddenly dying…
Healthy one day and dead a few days later … by the hundreds daily in some countries
Currently Italy and Iran
And, in light of my friend David dying in a car accident seven weeks ago at the age of 23…
I have been thinking a great deal about the uncertainty of life and how quickly death can take a person from this world into the next …
And, at a time like this death comes quickly and often unexpectedly!
I have been thinking about this a lot over the past two months….
If I died tomorrow what is the one thing people will always remember about me?
Make it personal: If you died tomorrow, what is the one thing people will always remember about you?
Your love for people?
Your negative approach to life?
The times you encouraged them?
The fact that you are a great talker and a seriously poor listener?
Your smile and the joy you lived life with?
The fact you were always there for them?
Your input into their life?
Your enthusiasm for life?
The way you shared your life with them?
How negative you were?
How you didn’t engage in life?
So, again: If you died tomorrow, what is the one thing people will always remember about you?
If I died tomorrow what (not who) would I miss the most?
Make it personal: If you died tomorrow what (not who) would you miss the most?
Your favourite food?
Your favourite television show?
Your dog (cat)?
If I knew I would die tomorrow, what would be the last two or three things I would want to do?
Make it personal: If you knew that you would die tomorrow, what would be the last two or three things you would want to do?
Forgive someone close to you?
Ask forgiveness from someone close to you?
Say “I love you” to someone and give them a big hug?
Make amends for something you did or said a week, month, years ago?
Eating your favourite meal?
Write a letter to each of your children letting them know you are proud of them?
If I knew I would die tomorrow, what would be my greatest regret?
Make it personal: If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would be your greatest regret?
An opportunity you didn’t take advantage of?
A friendship that you let slip through your fingers?
A marriage that did not work?
A dream that you did not ever see come to pass?
Not doing that “one thing” you always wanted to do?
Missing God’s plan for your life?
Not taking your faith more seriously?
So many questions have raced through my mind over the past few weeks:
How would I want to spend the last 12 hours of my life?
What would I be valuing as I waited to die?
If I could life my life over again, what would I change?
And then, having thought about all this for the last six weeks… I discovered one more question or one further thought to consider
If I was to receive a miracle from God and so not die tomorrow … as a result of all these thoughts what ONE THING would I change as I began again?
If you had a sudden recovery or a healing and didn’t die, what ONE THING would you change with your new lease on life?
But, here is the bottom line – the culmination of my thinking and pondering – the one thing I would most certainly change and have actually begun to adjust – change – alter
I would not live my life in “safe mode” – I would risk more and take greater chances
I would no longer in any way “play it safe” – I would go all out, full steam ahead, 100% engaged
I would step out in faith and give God more opportunities to move in power and release miracles, signs, and wonders upon the earth through me
I would be less timid and fearful of things not working out and what people might think – risking it all more often and quicker than ever before
What is the one thing you would immediately change if your “death” was cancelled and you got to continue your life in perfect health once again?
A continuation of my thinking:
Many times I have not stepped out in faith
I have not grabbed hold of life
I have not walked through the open door
I have not been open and vulnerable
I have not risked ‘what is’ for ‘what might be’
Because I have been hurt by others at one time or another and tire of getting the raw end of the stick
Because when I have stepped out in faith to do something, I got kicked and the situation went south in a hurry
And, if we were honest, we would all say that we have been hurt by others and by circumstances that have not always worked out as we hoped they would
So, we tend to play it safe …
You don’t let people get too close to you again.
You keep your conversations superficial, sharing little to nothing of your personal or private life.
You do whatever it takes to protect yourself from being hurt
You survive protecting yourself – and never really thrive
You stop risking
Playing the cards close to you chest
We all tend to withdraw a bit and “play it safe” whatever that looks like in your life
The interesting thing is that when we “play it safe” it rarely occurs to us that there are some very real dangers in playing it safe as well
Helen Keller said, “Avoiding danger in the long run is no safer than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
Most believe that avoiding danger is safer than risking what you have while reaching for what is yet to happen …
They would rather walk by sight and not by faith
They would rather live with ”what is” than risk it all for what ”might be”
So, they avoid risk no matter the cost
And, my thinking at this point is that avoiding risk is not a less dangerous approach to life than taking risks.
Avoiding risks has it own horrific consequences that most people are less aware of because we don’t think about the costs of continuing to do what we have always done
Playing it safe is the ultimate attempt at self-preservation.
It passes up the opportunity to have an incredibly meaningful life in exchange for mere existence.
The sure way to look back in the future with massive regret is to play it safe, be guarded, be suspicious of people who are friendly, assume the worst, and refuse to take chances.
Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.”
When you play it safe, you pass up the opportunity to have the conversations that could have changed your life and someone else’s.
When you play it safe, you never discover or know what is possible.
When you play it safe, you lack passion for life, other people don’t feel your love, your potential is not discovered, and God’s purpose for you goes unfulfilled.
There’s a story in the Old Testament about four lepers in Samaria in a time of famine.
2 Kings 7:3-16a “Now there were four men with leprosy sitting at the entrance of the city gates. “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.”
So at twilight they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching. “The king of Israel has hired the Hittites and Egyptians to attack us!” they cried to one another. So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives.
When the men with leprosy arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”
So they went back to the city and told the gatekeepers what had happened. “We went out to the Aramean camp,” they said, “and no one was there! The horses and donkeys were tethered and the tents were all in order, but there wasn’t a single person around!” Then the gatekeepers shouted the news to the people in the palace.
The king got out of bed in the middle of the night and told his officers, “I know what has happened. The Arameans know we are starving, so they have left their camp and have hidden in the fields. They are expecting us to leave the city, and then they will take us alive and capture the city.”
One of his officers replied, “We had better send out scouts to check into this. Let them take five of the remaining horses. If something happens to them, it will be no worse than if they stay here and die with the rest of us.”
So two chariots with horses were prepared, and the king sent scouts to see what had happened to the Aramean army. They went all the way to the Jordan River, following a trail of clothing and equipment that the Arameans had thrown away in their mad rush to escape. The scouts returned and told the king about it. Then the people of Samaria rushed out and plundered the Aramean camp…” (NLT)
This is an amazing story …
The only food source was in the neighbouring community, where food was stockpiled by their enemy.
These lepers were starving to death.
They had every reason to believe that the enemy would not give them food and would kill them if they made any attempt to enter enemy territory.
That’s when one of the lepers did a risk assessment.
He began to question the sanity of staying where they were and certainly dying versus taking the risk of going to the neighbouring city in hopes of finding food.
“‘Why stay here until we die?’ He asked” (2 Kings 7:3)
He wasn’t being irrational.
He was pointing out the danger of ‘playing it safe’.
He was saying, It may be risky to walk towards our enemy, but at least there is a potential for a better life than we’ll have here if we stay where we are.”
It’s true for us as well.
The dangerous consequences of playing it safe may be less obvious, but they pose a greater threat in the end.
The dangers aren’t sudden and dramatic.
They develop slowly over time and can be difficult to see and identify, which is what makes playing it safe so dangerous
Like a slow leak in a tire, the dangers of playing it safe aren’t something we see or feel on a daily basis.
We become aware of them only when we realize we’re stuck and wondering how it happened.
That’s when we take note of the bigger picture and realize that playing it safe isn’t as safe as it appears to be.
What I love about the story of the four lepers is that heaven suddenly backed them up when they finally make their gutsy move to stand on their feet and begin walking in the direction of the food.
When they headed into enemy territory, God caused the enemy to hear loud, thunder-like noises, which they thought were the chariots and horses of an army coming to attack them.
The enemy fled for their lives, leaving behind everything, including the food that they had stockpiled.
The four lepers walked into the city and found it vacated and filled with plenty of food, not only for themselves but also for the people of Israel.
This is what happens when we have the courage to not stay where we are or as we are even if it means risking failure.
Acts of faith always attract God’s attention and cause Him to move mightily on our behalf.
This doesn’t happen when we sit in safe places.
It only happens when we dare to move in the direction of our dreams.
The lepers faced two alternatives, two choices
1> Stay where they were and eventually die a slow death from hunger
Safe but, in the long run, dangerous to life
2> Go where the food was in spite of the dangers as it was in enemy territory
Not safe and potentially dangerous to life BUT there was a slim possibility that they might receive some food
They risked what they had with no guarantee that things would be better once they stepped out – reached out – moved out – in faith
As they risked it they of course left ‘the safety zone’
They became very vulnerable
They became very open – stepped out into the open
They put themselves in a place where they could be seriously hurt
They had no guarantees
They were not acting on a very specific prophetic word from God
So often we let FEAR keep us from stepping out in faith and seeing God do what only God can do
Fear of stepping out in faith
Fear of messing up
Fear of the unknown
Fear of ‘no guarantee’
Fear of what someone will think or say
Fear of not measuring up
Fear of not being good enough or smart enough
Fear of disappointment
Fear of rejection
Fear of failure
We need to learn a lesson from the lepers …
If they had not stepped out in faith, overcoming their fears, they would have lived with regret and died a slow death
But they stepped out and they saw God work a miracle
God stepped into the circumstances and did what only God can do
If we don’t step out in faith, overcoming whatever fears we have, then we will certainly live with regret and die a slow death long before we actually physically die
We will see hope die
We will see relationships die
We will see dreams die
We will see God’s plan for your life slowly die
We will see your potential die
We will see your future die
And then, one day, you die….
Let’s look at another story – this time from the New Testament…
Jesus is teaching a large crowd of people when a woman crawls through the crowd and touches the hem of His garment
This woman is unclean as there is a situation where she Is hemorrhaging badly
She is bleeding internally from a tumour
A 12 year struggle with this disease and with living alone away from healthy people
A poor woman because she had spent all of her money on various doctors looking for help and finding none
This means she must stay clear of all other people as the Law of Moses states she is unclean (Leviticus 15:25-27)
If she were to come into a crowd and touch someone they too would be considered unclean
Unclean meant not able to participate in any religious events – could not attend church
Like the lepers in our previous story she would be living outside the village away from healthy people
Mark 5:24-34 “Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”(NLT)
Again, as with the four lepers, a choice was made…
1> Stay away as the Law of Moses demands and slowly die from the tumour
She might die tomorrow from the disease or the next day, week, month …
2> Risk being stoned and crawl through the crowd pressing in on Jesus and touch the hem of His garment*
So, maybe die immediately for disobeying the Law and causes others to be unclean
*[One of the tassels that were sown to the corners of the garment in order to remind the wearer to obey God’s commandments – Numbers 15:38-40]
Only as she overcame her fear and stepped out in faith did she allow God a place to do a miracle and heal her totally
I am sure she would have said to herself, “I can stay away and die tomorrow or the next day or I can break the Law and touch Jesus and maybe be stoned and die today
But maybe if I risk it I will be healed…. And she was!
If she had not stepped out and taken the risk she would have lived with deep regret for the rest of her life
So, you might die tomorrow … but then again you may not
We never know for sure
But here is what I do know for sure…
If you don’t make some decisions to change and move forward nothing will change
And even though you do not die physically you will be dead on the inside, without hope, if you don’t change and move towards more life and greater freedom
You will eventually be dead on the inside although still breathing
And, when you do die you will be in the same place facing the same issues that are staring at you now … and regret that you had
A life not well lived
A life wasted
We need to risk it … whatever your “it” is!
We need to trust Jesus and move forward – step out in faith – and give Him an opportunity to touch your life and give you a miracle
Give Him an open door to make a way where there is no way
So you can come alive and embrace life – living your life to the fullest
Enjoying it moment-by-moment as you fulfill the plan and purpose of God for your life
You might die tomorrow … but then you most likely won’t.
But it is a guarantee that if you don’t change and ‘risk it’
Grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally
Move forward in your life
Step out in faith
Then you will not live life as God meant it to be lived!