A Rude Awakening
By Bev Yellowley
The last thing that he remembered before he blacked out was his car spinning out of control on the icy road that cold winter morning. As he slowly regained consciousness, he could hear the paramedics frantically trying to reach him inside the vehicle to treat his injuries. They knew they'd need the “Jaws of Life” to free him from his mangled car. Then one of the medics said, “They'd better hurry! I don't know how much longer the man can hold on!”
When he heard the dire words, he was in shock! He wondered if things were really that bad. He knew his injuries were serious, but could he actually die here on this busy highway? His life was fast-paced and had been that way for so many years that he didn't know how to live any other way. He'd been very ill a few times in his life, but he'd never come this close to death until now.
He felt himself drifting in and out of consciousness. The paramedics were very concerned that he was still trapped in his vehicle. They tried to reassure him that he'd be out of there soon, but he didn’t know if he could wait that long. He knew he'd lost a lot of blood and was going into shock. Now that he might be facing death, he realized he'd never taken the time, never really wanted to think about what would happen to him when he died. He had planned financially for his family, but had he prepared for his eternal destination?
He'd been raised to believe if he was good enough, if he weren’t too sinful, he'd make it into heaven. But, he'd been listening to a radio program in his car just before the accident, and it made him question what he'd been taught. He didn't usually tune into a Christian station, but his wife had left it on when she borrowed his car yesterday. His hand reached for the radio so that he could turn to his favorite station, but his interest was piqued when he heard the Pastor say, “There isn't anything we can do to earn our way into heaven being good won't get us there, the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8,9.
In Romans 3:23, it says, we've all sinned, and this separates us from a Holy God. If we haven't confessed our sins to God before we die, we can't go to heaven. Sadly, we'll go to a terrible place of punishment called hell.”
The pastor continued, “God loves us so much, and He wants us to live with Him forever in heaven, so He sent His only Son to die for us. Jesus took the full punishment for our sins on Himself as He hung on the cross suffering in ways we'll never understand. If we ask God to forgive our sins, we're no longer separated from Him and one day we'll see Jesus in heaven. We can't do anything to earn our way there; the Bible says it's a gift of God.” He'd received many gifts in his life. He didn't remember what most of them were now, but this gift of salvation, the forgiveness of sins would last forever.
He began to think about the relationship he had with God. He knew he'd spent his life living only for himself never doing anything to please the Lord. He was sure if he were to die right now, he wouldn't be going to heaven. But, was he willing to confess his sins and let God be in control of his life?
He was trying to come to a decision when he heard a voice call out, “They've cut him out of the car. Let's move! We need to get him onto the stretcher!” They started to lift him when pain gripped his chest, and he felt himself fall into a darkened abyss. As he regained consciousness, he heard the medics say, “We have his heart going again, but he's bleeding profusely from the gash in his leg. I'm not sure he's going to make it!”
“Could I really die today?” he wondered, “I thought I had more time to decide if I should surrender myself to God or choose to spend my life without Him. Am I prepared to go to hell if I die?” The Pastor said it's a place of utter darkness and desolation. There's no love or joy in hell only sadness, crying, and despair. But, Heaven is a place where there's no sin, no pain or tears, only perfect love, peace and joy that will never end. “What I'm excited about the most,” the Pastor said, “is knowing that in heaven, I'll see Jesus face to face.” “Everyone who has prayed to have their sins forgiven will be going to heaven,” he thought, “including my wife and kids. I'm the only one in my family who won't be going there someday.”
The paramedics looked worried as they worked diligently to try to control the bleeding in his leg. “This is it!” he thought, “What a rude awakening. I never thought I would die this young!” Realizing he might go at any moment, he decided to give his life to God. He wanted to feel real peace inside and be free from the guilt of all his sin. He knew that whether he survived or not, he wanted his life to be right with God. He was sorry he hadn't surrendered to Him years ago, but he was going to do so now.
He closed his eyes and prayed aloud although it was getting hard to breathe and talking was becoming difficult. “Dear Jesus,” he said, “I know I have sinned. I've spent my life wandering far from you, and I want to come home. I ask for your forgiveness, and I give my life to you.” He opened his eyes and smiled. He felt a peace wash over him that was unlike anything he'd ever known. He thought of how excited his wife would be when she heard he'd finally given his life to Jesus. He was thinking about how he'd tell her when his heart stopped beating. The medics tried feverishly to revive him, but he was gone. His body lay on the cold stretcher, but his soul soared instantly to heaven.
The paramedics, bystanders, and emergency workers all stared in shocked disbelief. Then a car raced up to the scene. A woman got out of the vehicle and rushed over to where the paramedics were standing. “Is my husband okay?” she asked, her voice full of emotion. No one wanted to answer her. Then, she noticed a body draped with a white sheet lying near a crumpled car. She hurried over to the vehicle and stared anxiously at the lifeless form lying on the stretcher. She turned and looked at the officer waiting nearby silently pleading with him to give her the answer she so desperately wanted. His eyes showed concern as he lifted the sheet from her husband's face. She started crying and called out, “Oh Paul! I can't believe it! If only you'd given your life to Jesus, then I'd be with you someday in heaven.” Heartbroken, she fell to her knees beside him crying softly now.
Then, she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. She looked up, and though her vision was blurred by her tears, she saw a man look at her compassionately and say, “I'm one of the medics that took care of your husband. I'm also a Christian, and I want you to know that just before he died, I heard your husband confess his sins to God and give his life to Him.” She was shocked for a moment. Then she slowly smiled tears of joy now flowing down her face. She would miss Paul terribly, but she was thrilled to know she would see him again in heaven someday.