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Famous Last Words
by James R Fulton
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To Daniel, a friend who have long since left us –

It’s funny, in a strange sort of way, of what is remembered as the “famous last words” of a person.

Words that may be said in gist often come back to those of us who are still here on this side of Heaven with an ominous ring to them. My friend, Daniel, said shortly before the accident that killed him, “There is no God.” How could he have known what was in store for him when he said those terrible, dreadful words?

I have often wondered what he meant by that statement. Was he trying to get an old man to shut up? May be it was the brashness of his youth that made him say it, in some type of shock value, he always did have a bit of proclivity towards antagonizing one’s belief system, but whatever the reason was for saying such words, whenever I think of him, well…they, those words, take on a whole new hideous definition to them and they just hang in the air like the steam from a express train in a winter’s morning early light.

We didn’t argue or anything of the sort. It was just a discussion that involved the exchanging of different values and beliefs. Could it be that one of the questions I purposed got a little bit too close for comfort? I will never know; for it was soon after this conversation that I found out he died tragically. And the last words he left me with were those that denied God’s existence. Now those words have come back to haunt me; and with those words, I weep. It is also the reason why I write this.

If Daniel could read this, he’ll probably say, “don’t trouble yourself with it; it was my time to leave.” Or he might say, “You can’t save them all.” But that does nothing to squelch those feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that those deplorable words imply; because he wasn’t a stranger to me, he was a friend.

You see, I can argue the existence of a being that transcends time and space; I can even debate that He is a good and loving Father. But all of this is moot, when a life is lost and the final words are those that deny the very existence of the author of life.

I feel guilty because I didn’t do my best to tell a friend about the awesomeness of the Lord. I let a stranger of God die without knowing the love that was always there for him. I let an orphan of God pass from this life to the next without ever knowing whom their real Father is. I let some one be taken from his love ones here to the hereafter while still in his sins without telling them of the escape route. I could have said something that might have changed his view on things, but I was all out of words. And the sad fact of the matter is that I can’t change the heart, only God can. And now, Daniel, only God knows if your heart has changed or not.

All that being what it is, what I do know is that God allows His gospel to be offer more than once. He’s not stingy when it comes to second chances for Adam’s fallen race. However, for us who believe and tell others of the gospel, the trouble is that we have eye problems; we can’t see that far in the future. We may never see if our telling of the story pays off. That is until we get to Heaven and see for ourselves. But to the individual who hears the gospel, salvation can’t be put off for another day, since tomorrow isn’t here and may never get here. Thus, salvation is a present ongoing offering; salvation is now. And since we can’t tell how our demise will be or how we meet it, conversions upon one’s very own deathbed are rare at best. You know that now, Daniel.

But what say, if a non-believer such as you, has a deathbed conversion, what then? What would have mattered in their life? That you were a good person and you treated people fairly? Very well then, or should I say “good for you!” Despite how you might think about yourself, a problem arises - by what standard are you basing these characteristics upon? For good is a character trait of God and fair is an attribute of His justice. If there is no God, so says the atheist, then how do we know what is good and fair?

And what if the person will say that all they want is to be happy in life, as in fortunate, or perhaps even contented as in satisfied. Well, I suppose that there are happy atheists who do fall into these categories, however, what purpose will it be to live a happy, contented life if all we do is to become worm food and ashes at the end of our lives? You are willing to risk your happy life on worms? This kind of happiness that people often chase after is forever fleeting. And if you could catch it, what then? Forasmuch, it is never satisfying, it never leads to everlasting joy. Happiness or for that matter, contentment, must mean future investment into a more joyous event such as eternal life. Without it’s meaning, happiness would just be considered silly or absurd. Much like suffering without endurance is nothing more than sadistic and perverted.

And what about the goodness of the human will, where does that come from? Surely not from mortal man. I mean this characteristic doesn’t originate with us. Being how if mankind is basically good so says the humanist, which is just another name for an atheist, the argument has a dangerous flip side to it. If man is basically good, goes the discussion, then how do we explain the likes of a Stalin or Hussien. They had bad parents? They had an irritable bowel? If man is basically good, it really doesn’t explain why we have wars and other awful atrocities that plague us.

However, if the other side is correct – man is basically evil with a great capacity for good – this would take into account the possibility of why we do have evil in this world as well as great acts of good. To put it another way: since the fall, Man has become evil, evil meaning away from God in a rebellious nature, however, Since God is good all the time and we are made in His image, Man has a great capacity for good while doing evil. It becomes a matter of choice of what to follow.

Let me add on one more item; our imaginations

C.S. Lewis was an atheist in his young life. His conversion came when he couldn’t get around the fact that he had a vivid imagination. Where did this gift come from he wondered? It served no purpose other than to tell great stories. God on the other hand is believed to have a mind and a vast imagination that no one can really conceive or comprehend.

But we have a world to look at that tells us of His artistry (Romans 1:20), sonnets from nature that declare His righteousness (Psalms 150:6), architecture of living things that tells us of His love and grace (Colossians 1:16-17), laws that declare His justice and mercy (Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers.) And with all of this, He has allowed us a glimpse into His heart by allowing us an imagination. Could it be that man’s imagination is God’s fingerprint on us? That one piece of evidence that declares us of being made in the image of God is our imagination?

It is obvious that we are not alone. We are not abandoned to baffle our way through this world by ourselves. We are not dropped off trying to figure out what end is up.

I quote the prophet Micah –

“He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8

God then becomes our example on how to treat one another. God then is our standard that we based everything upon.

There is no God? There has to be; that’s the only plausible answer we have that makes any kind of sense. It’s the only answer that gives us purpose and meaning to our lives. It’s the only conceivable solution on how we interact with one another. It’s the only logical explanation we have to explain our imaginations.

For those who do not believe in God, they are risking a lot on their last day. For they must know, without a doubt, that there is no God. But there is too much to risk. I much rather believe in a God that gives meaning to life then to out and right deny His existence. Because there’s just might be a chance that what the Christian is saying is the truth. If you hedge a bet, then put it to the side that tells of a plausible story other than to bet your life on ignorance.

To Daniel –

I hope in the last seconds of your life, God revealed Himself to you and you believed.

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Member Comments
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Elizabeth Hale 12 Aug 2006
I hope Daniel believed too. Good, thought provoking article. I didn't realize it, but I was holding my breath a bit until the end, til the last line--To Daniel....


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