Over the past two weeks I have read the obituaries of two former classmates from High School. My mom told me recently how difficult it is when you start seeing people you have known for years, but fallen out of touch with, showing up in the Obits. I spoke on the theme of friendship this past week and when you have stark reminders of just how fragile and temporal life on this earth is—I think you also take inventory of friendship and family circles, especially if they are shrinking with time. The reality check that takes place might be called a “Moment of Truth.”
A career Missionary to China had been under house arrest with his family until the soldiers came one day and said, “You can return to America.” They began to celebrate when the soldiers said, “You can take two hundred pounds,” they got the scales and soon began a family argument with the two children, wife and husband. “Got to have this vase. Well, what about these books this picture that keep sake? What about this and that?” And they put things on and off the scales for over an hour until finally they had exactly two hundred pounds. The soldiers came to the door an asked, “Ready to go?” “Yes” “Did you weigh everything?” “Yes.” “You weighed the kids?” “No, we didn’t.” And in a moment, the books and vase and all became trash. Trash. It happens. It’s a moment of truth.
Author Allan Petersen tells about a flight he took on a 747 out of Brazil. He was awakened by sleep by a strong voice announcing, “We have a very serious emergency.” Three engines had quit because of fuel contamination and the fourth was expecting to go at any second. The plane began to drop and turn in the night, preparing for emergency landing. At first the situation seemed unreal to Petersen, but when the steward commanded, “Prepare for impact,” he found himself—and everyone around him praying. As he buried his head in his lap and pulled up his knees, he said, “God, thank you. Thank You for the incredible privilege of knowing You. Life has been wonderful.“ As the plane approached the ground, his last cry was “Oh, God, my wife! My children!”
Petersen survived. As he wandered about the airport in a daze, aching all over, he found he couldn’t speak, but his mind was racing, “What were my last words? What was the bottom line?” As he remembered, he had his answer: relationships. Reunited with his wife and sons, he found that all he could say over and over was “I appreciate you, I appreciate you!” That was a moment of truth for Petersen—and as it so often is the case, life’s extremes push us to moments of truth.
What if we didn’t choose to wait for the wake up call—the moment when human need and adversity is churning to tell those we know and love “I appreciate you, I appreciate you!” So often our words mirror our hearts—better yet words are the windows into the human heart— “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34. If we find it hard to have kind, loving, and appreciative words, it is probably a reflection of a troubled or hardened heart. The fork in road—the wake up call—the moment of truth is the perfect time to give our hearts and thus our tongues back to the God who intends to redeem them both for His ultimate glory and the good of others.
He told me to tell you!
Pastor Robert Zimmerman