“In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’ ” Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
“Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.” ’ ””
II Kings 20:1-3, 5-6 NKJV
Better off dead
We humans have a fear of aging and death, and trillions of dollars have been spent on squeezing as much life from our bodies as possible. One would hope that we would use the time to do good things, profound things with the time that we have. All too often though, that time is wasted on the pursuit of more pleasure, more to feed our flesh.
This morning, I read about Hezekiah facing the end of life, and crying out to God for a little bit more. God heard him, and out of His great mercy, granted Hezekiah fifteen more years.
I can empathize with Hezekiah, as I have had several times when it seemed likely that I would die. Unlike the great king of Judah, I was on the other end of the spectrum, as I was more than ready to end my suffering and enter eternity. God in His sovereignty has kept me here, using each struggle to glorify Himself, as each “near miss” has resulted in my increased devotion and desire to share the Gospel.
Hezekiah arose from his death bed and immediately set the stage for the eventual captivity of Judah by the Babylonians. When confronted with what he had done, he was apathetic, having little regard for those who would follow him. In his extra time on this earth, he as more concerned with showing all that he had accomplished to friend and foe alike. All the great things done, all the moving of God in his life and kingdom gave way to his pride.
He would have been better off if he had died.
Since my cancer in 2004, I have lived as if on borrowed time. I try to use every moment to glorify the Lord. I am not perfect, by any measure. But God is actively perfecting me through all the trials I have endured.
In the face of all the pain and trouble, I find that I am much more able to perceive the glory of God. Like moving from the city to the country gives one a better view of the starry heavens, the trials have reduced the bright, pride driven light within me, that I be able to more clearly behold His glory.
I want to use every moment and every breath to show Jesus anyway I can. Even so, I long for that day when I will see Jesus. I remember when I nearly died on Christmas morning 2008, having suffered respiratory arrest twice before breakfast. I remember the struggle, as I dealt with the conflict within, between my desire to survive and my desire to go home to be with the Lord.
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”
Philippians 1:21-24 NKJV
I remain to serve the Lord. For three years I was on dialysis, and at anytime I had the right to end treatment, resulting in my death in weeks. That is about the time the Lord commissioned me to pray. Between individuals and families, I pray for thousands weekly. God is using my survival for his glory.
Brothers and sisters, I suspect this world has been given extra time. God has granted mercy, that we go out and do what we were commissioned to do. When we look at all the things going on in our world, one gets the sense that it is all spiraling downward.
We have been given more time and an open door. The pandemic and all the other strife has given opening for the Gospel. Everyone is sensitive to the possibility of dying, and more aware of mortality. But time is short and dusk is giving way to darkness.
“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.””
John 9:4-5 NKJV
There is also an increased hunger for spiritual things, as people are seeking meaning from all that has transpired.
Let us go through that open door and set about using these extra moments to reach the lost for Christ. It is a time for much prayer, for much Scripture study, and using every opportunity to go out and apply all that we have learned to God’s glory as we go about the Father’s business.
May we use the remaining time, redeeming every minute as we look forward to the coming of the Lord.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.”
Revelation 19:11-13 NKJV
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