Jane lay on the wrinkled sheets of the hospital gurney, groggy coming out of the anesthesia. She wasn’t opening her eyes. Jane had to decide right then and there to either leave this world or fight to stay alive. In talking about it later, she said, “I could hear the male nurse yelling my name over and over, but I refused to listen. I was the last patient of the day, and there were ten patients before me who all had pacemakers put in like me. One thing I knew for sure: I wasn’t done yet. But I was struggling with myself and God. I couldn’t do what I wanted, which was to give up. I knew I had to do what God wanted me to do, which was to come back. So, I opened my eyes.” Jane decided to live and began a new season of her life.
The decisions we make at critical moments and traumatic events are life changers. We all come to crossroads, precipice points where we make the hard choices for our futures: career choices, marriage, divorce, children, health, spiritual choices, and so much more. We rarely get a preliminary warning about which choices will make the biggest difference in how our lives go. The critical moments and traumatic events crash into our lives unexpectedly and demand that we respond.
I had one of those traumatic incidents hit me when I was in college.
The Carbondale University of Illinois in 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 was I doing? I’d gone too far.
I was throwing a baseball-sized rock into a line of police officers, 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 different story.
I was afraid of the person I’d become. I didn’t recognize her and didn’t want to be 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 terribly lonely. I was searching, and I had no friends.
At some point, we all come to crossroads where we honestly ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” And then we need to answer ourselves truthfully.
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. The lepers just sat there. Finally, they woke up and “they said one to another, ‘Why sit we here until we die?’” (2 Kings 7:3). They realized they were 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 vast army coming against them, and they ran, leaving all their goods behind.
“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” (2Kings 7:7). There was so much food and wealth; the whole city was able to prosper from it.
Hope motivated the lepers’ action, 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).
God Almighty, the Creator of all things, loves us, and we can trust Him to help us, especially at those life-changing crossroads.
Because of hope and reverence for God, Jane came back from death. My traumatic event woke me up and made me look for hope in a different direction, so I gave up my only friends and pursued Jesus and the Bible instead. The four leprous men got up off their butts, and with a little hope, they walked toward the enemy.
When our hope is in the Lord, we will be able to make godly decisions at those critical moments and traumatic events.
We can trust that throughout all our life changes, we can continue to say: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want [lack]” (Ps. 23:1). Our hope in Him will always be rewarded.
QUESTIONS AND EASY CHALLENGES
- Name a crossroad or precipice you came to in your life and how it changed you.
- Where do we find the record of the four lepers?
- Have you ever had the “why sit we here until we die?” experience, where you had to decide between two seemingly bad options?
- Can you see some of Christ’s nature manifesting in you? What characteristic of Jesus Christ would you like to see more pronounced in your life?
- Read Psalm 23. Give an example from your life where the Lord has been a shepherd to you.
This is a chapter from my WINGS: A JOURNEY IN FAITH (Book 2). I’m working on the final edit and then it goes to print. I have several other shorter books and booklets. Take a look:
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