The End of Life Can Be Near
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It was an unseasonably mild early January day as the setting sun colored the clouds over the vast agricultural fields just north of Huron, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />South Dakota.
The sun had also set, so to speak, on another memorable pheasant hunting season with Ben, my beloved eight-year-old yellow Labrador retriever. He had hunted particularly well and hard that day despite a case of diarrhea pointing and retrieving bird after bird, and now was carrying the last rooster pheasant of the day and the season back to the pickup truck for the short ride to the farmhouse where we would say good-bye to our hosts and load up my truck for the long trip home to the Twin Cities under the night sky.
Normally Ben rode shotgun, but this time packed full with my brother, nephew, and gear, I helped him into his dog crate in the back of my vehicle. He lied down immediately, yet with a tinge of resignation that only I, as one who knew his every mood and manner, could possibly discern. I paused and looked at him for a moment concluding he was extra tired after a few days of hunting, the latter half with diarrhea.
A visit to the vet the following day revealed that Ben had Giardia, a parasite that causes intestinal problems as a result of drinking tainted water. That made perfect sense: Ben liked to cool off in the creeks and culverts while hunting and probably picked up the bug somewhere along the way.
But a month later when the abnormal stools remained despite the course of treatment being finished and with it the Giardia, my parents and I sat pensively one evening in an internists' lobby awaiting the results of an abdominal ultrasound.
We had considered the possibility of the "C" word before, but always moved on to more likely and conventional explanations. After all, our Ben was in the prime of his life, strappingly athletic, full of vim and vigor, and without any health problems in his past. Swim a half mile around the bay? Like an otter. Run alongside us on cross country skis? For miles. Broad jump into the highest pickup? With ease.
And then the specialist came out and told us Ben's prostate was five times the normal size and that she would be sending cells to the lab for testing and that it was 50/50 whether it was an infected prostate or cancer.
I looked in her eyes and knew that she knew that Ben had prostate cancer rather than an infected prostate. The phone call the following afternoon only confirmed my premonition. The prognosis was shockingly short an average survival time of four to eight weeks. The pain through my chest and stomach would not subside for days. I cried uncontrollably. The end was near.
Sure enough, seven weeks later the closest thing I had to a son was gone and I neither care to recount nor remember my dearest Ben's horrific demise.
But I do want to implore you to consider your own mortality, and most important, where you will spend eternity.
The Bible says, " it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment " (Hebrews 9:27)
The dying part we all know about. We don't like the thought of it or the uncertainty of when and how it will happen. No one's guaranteed to live 85 years and die peacefully in their sleep. The end could be near, as with Ben, or far we just don't know but there will be an end.
Yes, physical death is a given, and according to the second half of this verse, there will also be a future judgment made by God on each one of us either everlasting life in heaven or eternal wrath in hell based solely on our reception or rejection of Jesus Christ.
The Bible states plainly, "He who believes in the Son [Jesus Christ] has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).
Three months to the day I first noticed a problem, my Ben was gone. Among many things, it has been a poignant lesson that not only are Minnesota summers short, but the seasons of life can be too.
Bow before the holy and just Judge of mankind today, repent of your many sins against Him, receive by faith alone His offer of Jesus Christ to be the substitutionary sacrifice and satisfactory payment for your sin, and start obeying Him as Lord.
Then, while the end of this life may be near, the hope of an eternal one will be dear!
David Wheaton is the host of The Christian Worldview radio program heard Saturdays in Minneapolis/St. Paul on Salem Radio Network's AM 980 KKMS in from 8-9am and 7-8pm. He is also an author, speaker, and professional tennis player. You can find out more at www.davidwheaton.com.
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