I will never forget the last moment of communication I had with my Grandma, Betty Czarnecki, as she lay on her deathbed. I had just finished singing, “It is Well with My Soul” at her bedside, and she looked up at me with those sparkling eyes, and although she was unable to speak she gently squeezed my hand two times, as if to say, “Thank you, I love you…and I know it is well with my soul.” And it was finally well with her soul, because just before her final stroke she had placed her trust in Jesus Christ as her personal Savior.
Perhaps you recall the final words or last wishes of your grandfather, grandma, mother, father, or uncle. And just like my moment with my Grandma, those last words or moments have been forever emblazoned on your mind and in your heart.
Does behavior “A” always result in “B” – every time? Is Christianity just a cause and effect cycle? Does God keep the carrot of heaven’s hope or hell’s punishment out in front of our noses so that we behave properly? Does God say, “If you behave correctly, you’ll be safe and get what you want! So you better be a nice person, give money to the church, and not have sex before marriage!” Or is there something more?
To be honest, a lot of preaching in today’s culture resembles a man dangling a carrot in front of a donkey’s nose – “Just keep going – the carrot is your cause!”
What would you do if you totally lost your voice? What if you could no longer sing, or even worse, no longer talk? To a singer, your voice is as dear as a pianist’s fingers or a soccer player’s legs. It’s part of our identity. What if those limbs and gifts were taken away in the blink of an eye?
The beautiful sunshine of spring was gently cascading across the landscape as our little son, Hudson, and I drove across town to worship Christ with the Evangel church family at this year’s Good Friday service. We sang cheerily as we turned northward onto Telegraph road, just a couple miles south of our church campus.
Suddenly the ominous, startling sound of an ambulance rang through our eardrums. Hudson fearfully grasped for my hand as a large EMS vehicle raced past us at breakneck speed. I wondered what we might find up ahead, but I never imagined the scene would be so shocking…