Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Treat it Like it's the Last Time

Last week I was called to the hospital room of a friend. He had been ill for a long time. It was obvious to his family and to me that this was his final stay in the hospital. He was dying. As I approached his bed, he rallied enough to see me and respond in non-verbal ways to my presence.

I spoke to him of faith in God, of heaven and of all the comfort I could bring him. I prayed with him and after a rather lengthy stay, as hospital visits go, I knew it was time for me to leave. This was the difficult part, knowing that I had a trip to Texas facing me the next day. It was probable that I would never see him again on this side of eternity. I told him I loved him and in his weak, feeble voice said to me, "I love you too."

The next day we got in the car to drive to the Gulf region of Texas where we would celebrate my mother-in-law's 70th birthday. This was a special occasion because my wife's uncle who lives in Germany, was flying in for the event. He had come to Texas for my mother-in-law's 50th birthday. Upon reflection, I could hardly believe twenty years had flown by so rapidly, but they had. The uncle was now 75 years of age. If things go as usual, this would likely be his last trip to the United States so that made this trip extremely special.

All these 'last time' things caused me to stop and think a bit. You know, we really never know when it will be our last time....last time to be with friends,...last time to worship together,...last holiday,...last chance to say 'I love you', etc. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we began treating one another as if it were the last time. Consider how you would appreciate the time if you knew it would be the last conversation you'd ever have with them. Consider how you would try to convey your sincere love if you knew you'd never get the chance to say it again.

The goodbye in Texas was a tearful one, as everyone knew this may well be the last one. When I arrived back home I learned the "I love you" I heard from my friend, was indeed the last one. Today I preached his funeral service.

Let's not take one another for granted. Everyone, everyday, every moment is precious, especially in light of it being the last time, last conversation, last chance to say, 'I love you'.