It had one thing in common with most of my other birthdays. It was filled with well wishes from family and friends. I got an assortment of cards, calls, texts, and emails, and even a present or two! Naturally, all of these were greatly appreciated.
But one thing set this birthday apart. It was something that happened as I was driving home. I topped a hill and happened up on a car accident that had obviously just happened. It could not have unfolded more than five or ten minutes or so before.
A car was upside down in the ditch, with major damage and smoke and steam coming forth. Skid marks marred the intersection. A couple of other cars were stopped already, ostensibly either to lend assistance and/or to testify as to what had happened. Lastly, two police cars and a first responder were pulled alongside as well, all with lights flashing.
What caught my attention in all of this, and what I will likely never forget, was the sight of a first responder and a police officer zipping a body into a body bag just as I was passing. Clearly, at least one person involved in the accident had already been pronounced dead on the spot.
As I made my way down the road, I encountered two different ambulances en route. I like to hope that this means that one or more people survived. But even if they did, I’m sure the day was one they will long regret, no matter who was at fault.
My thoughts also kept returning to the deceased individual. Heretofore, the date of my birth has always held significance to me as the day in which I was granted life. From this day forward, however, it will have double significance as it will also be remembered by me as one on which another lost his or her life.
It is somewhat ironic that I had just left a cemetery at which I had stopped on my way home in order to pay my respects to a long lost ancestor. Perhaps this is the reason I thought about headstones as I drove along. On my headstone, the month and the day will eventually be carved as that of my birth. On another’s headstone, however, that same month and day will now be carved as the date of their death.
Of course, my headstone will inevitably have a date for my death as well as a date for my birth. I am like every other person who has ever lived in that the New Testament Book of Hebrews (in chapter 9, verse 27) tells us that “each person is destined to die once”, and that “after that comes judgment”.
None of us knows the day or hour of our death. We only know that it will assuredly happen one day. Given this, it behooves each of us to live our lives in such a way so as to be ready for what comes after we depart this life.
It is a blessing to live in this world. But how much more of a blessing will it be to live in the world to come! And if we know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, then we must only face death “once”. But if not, then we will have to face death “twice”- once in this life and once again in eternity.
I hope the individual and/or individuals who died in that accident was/were prepared for the moment that their earthy life/lives ended. For my part, I know I am, for I am ready, as the Apostle Paul affirms, to “stand before Christ to be judged”.
I hope you are as well. If not, then why not let today be a significant date for you? Why not let today be the day you get prepared for the next life by coming to know Christ? Why not let today be your spiritual birthday?