"Today is the Day!"

“Don't worry about people God has removed from your life. He heard conversations you didn't. Saw things you couldn't and made moves you wouldn’t.” 

I first saw this quote a couple of years ago and it was credited to the contemporary Christian music artist, Toby McKeehan (known as TobyMac #SpeakLife, Instagram). I recently tried to research and confirm its source without success. Even though I continue to regularly see these musings on motivational posters and plaques, I have concluded they are the reflections of an anonymous person. I don’t know all the reasons why these phrases are so intriguing to me and speak both comfort and conviction, but they do!

Image credit: Potjanum Surirug
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Over the years of my life, I have lost loved ones to death and experienced broken relations with close friends. There have been times when I have questioned, “Why?”  The counsel not to worry has been my challenge. And the feelings of guilt over what I should have or should not have done regarding these painful partings still linger. To know that there is an unseen Presence who “speaks words I couldn’t and moves in ways I wouldn’t” gives me a measure of peace that God is still in control when all I see are grief and fracture all around me.

I have been asked to speak at funerals for persons that I feared had spent most of their lives outside of a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. I am always gratefully relieved to find out that some of these same individuals did make a last-minute decision for Christ. Some believers are skeptical about death bed repentances. They argue that it is a matter of “too little, too late.” That objection sounds like a works-based salvation to me, and I don’t think we can accurately judge a person or situation this way. We never really know what is in a person’s heart and whether they have made their peace with God before their parting breath. However, I would caution anyone considering such an important life and death decision as personal salvation not to try and “run the clock out!”  

Based upon the promise of God’s Word, I believe you can know your destiny when you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. John in his first epistle offers this hopeful assurance, “Whoever has the Son has eternal life; whoever does not have the Son does not possess eternal life. I’ve written this letter to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you will be assured and know without a doubt that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:12-13, TPT). 

I had a beloved neighbor during my growing up years named Jim. He was my Dad’s friend and close in age to him. After work, Jim would lend a hand to Dad in the auto repair shop. Since Dad was self-employed, he had unpredictable hours and was often busy with a customer’s car as I got home from school each day. Jim on the other hand had fixed hours from his 7am – 3pm factory job. This allowed him discretionary time to pitch for a local softball team and hunt wild game. On occasions, Jim would also play catch with me and take me hunting after work. I loved the extra attention and encouragement!

Jim’s wife was active in her church, but Jim never attended, even though she tried to get him there throughout the years of their marriage. When I decided to enter the ministry, I tried to share my faith relationship with Jim, but he brushed aside my suggestions that he needed to make a profession of faith. He would dismiss my efforts by saying, “It’s just not for me, Mike.” Throughout the years, I continued to pray for Jim and on several occasions, I’d share with him about his need to make life’s most weighty decision.

In Jim’s last year, his health became seriously threatened by cancer, and he found himself in an area hospital that was thirty miles from his home. When I found out about the situation, I drove the two hours to visit him. As I entered his room, he blurted out a greeting and admitted, “Well, I did what you wanted me to do!” I was initially caught off guard and wasn’t sure what he meant. He repeated the same exclamation but added, “One of those hospital preachers (a chaplain!) came in to visit me and I did what you wanted me to do.” I then understood and my heart nearly jumped out of my chest with joy! Jim had accepted Christ!

With a twinkle in my eye, I scolded him, “I’m mad at you!” Jim characteristically reacted with a grumble, “Oh, why?” And I explained, “All your life you have been putting off this decision! Think of the lost years you could have been living for Christ!” I don’t remember Jim’s answer to that as I reached over to hug him. But I do know that it wasn’t long after that visit that I returned to Vandalia to preach at Jim’s funeral.

The Bible reminds us in many places that life is brief, and that God controls our destinies. “You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.” (Job 14:5, NLT). Since we do not know the day of our passing, it is most urgent that we take seriously the matter of where we are going to spend eternity. Paul spoke these words to anyone thinking about delaying their decision to follow Christ, “Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT). Not only is this the right time, today is the only time we have. This is time to take care of business!

As a Christ-follower who cares about others and their relationship with Christ, I appeal to you to receive God’s grace in the gift of this moment. Humble yourself right now and prayerfully ask the Father to forgive your sins in Jesus’ Name. Why now? We have no guarantee that we will be here tomorrow!

On behalf of all believers of all the ages, I look forward to greeting you someday in heaven with this affirmation, “Welcome into the family of God!”

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

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