The Last Time…
By Chris Rathbone
Lord willing by the time you read this article it will be 2022. At the end of every year that passes, we always think to ourselves how quickly it went by. In a conversation just the other day I told someone that it seemed like we just started 2021 and here we are in December! Time has a way of passing by us quickly and all we can do is be amazed that somehow we didn’t realize it.
A preacher friend of mine told me about a conversation he had with one of his elderly church members. He made mention of what a long life this man had lived, of how he had seen so many changes in his lifetime. “You’ve lived a long time brother,” he said. The elderly man looked at him and spoke gently, “It seems like just the other day I was a boy. A boy running and playing with my friends, young and carefree.” The shame of it all is that by the time we all realize it, the time has already passed and there is nothing we can do to get it back.
The last couple of years has been a real challenge for my family, especially my parents. Mom is in a nursing facility full time. Dad is still at home but wants mom to be home so bad. It’s one of those situations that we wish were different but can’t change. The visitation has been up and down because of covid and other issues. Dad is lonely at home. He is dealing with his own health issues while being so worried about Mom. Again, a situation we would like to be different but can’t change. The elderly years bring so many health issues that are common for all. Trying to make decisions, navigate the system to get them the care they need, etc, puts a lot of stress on those who are trying to help. I’ve prayed, cried, and lost sleep while thinking about all the challenges that my parents and family are facing. And we aren’t alone in this situation either. Everyone will be faced with this at one time or another.
Just this week in our community, families have lost loved ones. Some in accidents, some to a sickness they have been battling for a while, some to a sudden health issue such as a stroke or heart attack, etc. Death is no respecter of persons. It can come upon anyone at any time, regardless of age or health condition. You don’t have to be old to die and youth is not a guaranteed deterrent to death. At any given moment everything can change. Something can happen. Something that is out of our control. And when this happens, this unexpected event that we know is possible, we somehow convince ourselves it is a long way off. We see it happening to others, but try to put it out of our minds that it could happen to us or the ones we love.
I realize I’ve rambled a bit in this article but I want to make a point. The time we think we have here is not as long as we believe. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14 In a blink of an eye, 20 years are gone. In what seems like days, we are in our 40s. Before we even realize it our kids are grown and gone. One day, if we live, we will be like the elderly gentleman, thinking it was just the other day we were carefree children playing with our friends.
My rambling is for us all to realize how we need to make the time count. As I dropped my dad off at his house the other day, I watched him go up on the porch and disappear through the door. It suddenly dawned on me that one day while doing that, it would be the last time. For all of us, it could be the last family gathering, the last holiday together, the last goodbye hug or kiss, the last time to say “I love you.”
If you are reading this, you have an opportunity. An opportunity to redeem the time you are given and not waste it. You can change priorities to make the most of what you have been given daily. We can put off those things that really aren’t gonna mean anything in eternity and focus on what matters the most; Jesus, our family, our friends. If we are gonna resolve to do anything in this new year, let’s resolve to do just that. For we never know when the last time will be the last time.
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.
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