Last Sunday Steve and I heard Pastor Blake Kersey preach at First Baptist Church in Decatur. The main passage was from 2 Timothy 4 where Paul is writing from his prison cell to his dear friend Timothy, urging him to please come and visit him before winter. Pastor Blake emphasized the importance of using time wisely and not wasting any of it. He also used Psalms 90:12 -- "Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts." He reminded us that we are all given the same 86,400 seconds every day. (I urge you to read the whole chapter and maybe watch the sermon through the church's website -- https://www.fbcdecatur.org/watch) The difference is in how we choose to spend and invest those seconds. At one point, the pastor said:
"If you want to realize the value of a day, ask someone who is waiting for a heart transplant.
If you want to realize the value of an hour, ask two people in love who are waiting to meet.
If you want to realize the value of a minute, ask the person who just missed their flight.
If you want to realize the value of a second, ask the person who just avoided an accident.
If you want to realize the value of a millisecond, ask the person who won a silver Olympic medal."
Those words really rang in our ears a few hours later. We were on our way to Dahlonega, Georgia to spend a few days soaking up the fall colors. Because of a restaurant delay (we're all experiencing those these days), we were later getting to our destination than we had planned. The roads were curvy and unfamiliar, almost deserted. It was getting dark. I looked out my passenger side window and faintly saw the outline of a deer running across the field, then WHAM!!!! No warning. No time to slam on the brakes. I started praying that whatever we'd hit was not a person. Steve said he saw the side and back legs of a deer. It must have been a BIG DEER, no doubt trying to catch up with the one I'd seen in the field. By the time we could pull over, there was no sign of the deer. Instead, this is what we saw.
We were so thankful to be uninjured. The car, although mangled, now missing a headlight and having a non-functioning blinker, was surprisingly drivable. So, we limped on to our hotel for the night. For the remainder of our trip, we were careful to drive only in broad daylight. When we got to the body shop here in Hartselle, we were given a conservative estimate of $8000 to repair the damage and the very likely scenario of parts being on backorder.
One second more and the deer would have gotten safely across the road. We could look at it that way, or we could realize that a millisecond at a different angle, and this could have been head-on, airbags deployed, losing control of the car, etc., etc., etc.
Time matters. Every second matters.
Between the sermon and the accident, I have naturally thought of many "what-ifs."
We've done our best to have our affairs in order from a legal/financial and spiritual perspective, but there are still loose ends we need to tie up.
What if our children and grandchildren had been left thinking about the last hugs we'd given them, the last phone conversations, the last text messages, etc. etc. Were they loving? Were they kind? Were our relationships on solid, joyful ground?
What about the last time we were with other family members, neighbors, friends? Would we have left positive interactions as a legacy?
If someone was left to go through our "stuff," what would they learn about us? Would they laugh? Would they be surprised? Would they be reassured that we really were who they thought we were?
Our loved ones could be attending funerals today, but we were spared. God still has things He wants us to do, to say, to experience.
Instead of being hospitalized with life-altering injuries, we were blessed with three glorious days of brilliant sunshine and peak color displays from towering deciduous trees.
If you're alive today, you, too, have been given 86,400 seconds to use carefully and wisely. We never know when one of those seconds could change everything. Let's resolve to appreciate each one as a gift.