Two friends told me similar stories of being on the operating table and knowing they were dying. Both came to a very serious crossroad: “Do I stay or leave?” Fortunately for me and for many others, they both made the choice to stay. But was this the only crossroad or life-changing decision they’ve faced in life? I don’t think so.
They say cats have 9 lives. But I think we have several lives too, here on earth, as we come to those crossroads, those precipice points where we have to make the hard choices that alter the future: career choices, marriage, divorce, where to live, children, medical choices, religion, and so many others. Not every choice may be a life-altering one, but as we look back on our lives, we can see the ones that really did make a big difference.
I had one of those in college.
Carbondale University of Illinois May 1970. I stood in the crowd of protesters chanting, “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, NLF is going to win.” I picked up a rock and threw it as hard as I could. The minute it flew from my hand I was jolted! “What am I doing?” I’d gone too far.
I was throwing a baseball-sized rock into a line of policemen, not even thinking who or what it could hit. I quickly backed out of the crowd of protesters and retreated to the trailer. I waited for my friends. I was silent on the trip home.
When I got back to my dorm, I had some real soul searching to do. I’d come to one of those crossroads. If I stayed with the friends I had at the time, my whole life would have been a totally different story. I was afraid of the person I’d become. I didn’t recognize her. I had to abandon my protester friends and began to look inward and to the Bible for answers. The next semester at school was awfully lonely.
At some point we all come to crossroads where we honestly have to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” And then we have to answer ourselves just as honestly.
Second Kings 7 tells us about four lepers who were in that predicament. The enemy was coming from without the city and there was a great famine within the city. They just sat there. Finally they woke up and “they said one to another, ‘Why sit we here until we die?’” They realized they were being foolish just sitting there and waiting to die. Instead they were motivated by a tiny spark of hope.
They decided that they’d make a move toward the enemy camp and just maybe there was a very slight chance something good would happen. As it turned out, their hope was rewarded. As the lepers went out, the enemy thought they heard a great army coming against them and they fled.
“And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment” (2Kgs. 7:7). There was so much food and wealth, the whole city was able to prosper from it.
The lepers’ action was motivated by hope and they were rewarded.
Hope is a great attitude to have. Psalm 146: 5 tells us a person can stay happy if he stays in hope. “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord.”
Even if we don’t always make the right decisions, we can pray like David did, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps. 51: 10), because we know that “the Lord looketh [is looking] on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
When our hearts are right with God, we can be assured that things will work out, no matter what they may look like now. We can smile with hope, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
And we do like it says in Philippians 2:12, “work out [our] own salvation [wholeness] with fear [reverence] and respect toward trying to do our absolute best for the Lord” for we have to trust it really is, “God which worketh [is working] in [us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
We are loved by God Almighty, the creator of all things, and we can trust Him to help us, especially at those life-changing crossroads.
Like me, when I decided to drop my protestor friends, or like the four lepers who made the scary move toward the enemy, if our heart is cleansed and our hope in the Lord, the future is a very bright and happy one for us.
One reader said this about my WINGS book: “It’s like reading a spiritual reality show!” My stories are entertaining and reflective at the same time.
Take a look: