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Who Do You Call When Your Number Is Up
James R Fulton
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I have heard it said through out my Christian walk, that if you are baffle by one of life’s problems, consult the Bible for your answer. And wouldn’t you know it, just as I was sure that I found something that I thought the Bible didn’t have one word to say about it, I was proven out to be wrong. In fact, the answer that I found wasn’t a slight tap on the shoulder of my conscience; it was more as if God poured a bucket of cold water on my head.
What started all of this consternation was a statement made by one of my co-workers. (We were discussing fates and telling stories of how some people of met their demise.) Then this was said –
“You’ll never know when your number is up.”
I’m having problems with that statement because it is fatalism at its core and something didn’t quite make sense. I kept thinking – “yeah, but” – and I couldn’t finished the contrast.
It is as if no matter what we do in this life, fate is calling the shots and we can’t change the course. Sort of like, what’s the point to life, if the next moment or the next day or next week or within the next ten years from now we die? The other side of it might be live life to it’s fullest, for tomorrow we may die. So we live out our lives passionately every waking moment, because you know the end is coming, you just don’t know when. The problem – who can live like that? A half day into living passionately you’ll be so exhausted that you might just speed up your demise, which leads into a circular argument – by throwing in different situations it can be argued that it was the person time to go.
I will concur that for most of us, that how it is, we just don’t know when our number is up. But what about God’s perspective on our lives? I don’t think God has the same view of life as we do when it comes to our views of it. And with a “seek God first” attitude to anchor our lives, it’s His opinion that matters, not ours.
I mean there are people who have died and yet have returned to life. The ones that comes to mind are: Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, all those who graves were open on that day when the King of Glory died for all of us, even the King of Glory Himself, Jesus Christ came back to life (in a new body no less!) And what about Enoch and Elijah? They didn’t die at all, just taken up to Heaven on their way home from work one day. So what do we say about these folks? God made a boo-boo? They died the first time without God knowing about it? It wasn’t their time? After raising these questions, I suppose that a truer statement is – “we don’t know God’s time for us.” Then it dawned on me, we’re talking about God’s sovereignty and providence here, not some type of mystical explanation of why some people die the way the do.
I would agree with my colleagues that if we are living away from God, then everyday we live it’s a crapshoot. We keep rolling the dice hoping to hit sevens and not crap out. However, life isn’t a game of chance where the dice can be loaded. To quote Albert Einstein – “God doesn’t play dice with His universe” and I might add to Al’s quote, God doesn’t play dice with his creation either, meaning us.
The problem I am having with that statement is it was made at the conclusion of the demise stories that were being told, sort of like urban legends, the results doesn’t match up with the context of the story. I couldn’t help but feel hopelessness at the fatalism that my peers were adhering to. I wanted to say – “So on your way home tonight, you stop in at the local ‘stop n’ rob’ only to be blown away from some drugged-induced pimp, who is robbing the till of its loot, which is a grand total of one hundred and fifty bucks?” Your lives mean so much more than that ending to your life.
Something should be telling you by now that our lives are more valuable than any price that can be ransomed. (Don’t believe me? Asked God, he’ll tell you His son paid the price with His life.) It’s more worthy than a number on some county corner’s logbook. We have identity. We have depth. We are somebody in the eyes of the Lord.
So let me ask - whom do you call when your number is up?
Jairus knew. He called the master to come and heal his daughter. When he met up with Jesus, his servants came and told him that the little girl has died, don’t trouble the teacher. The commentary I was reading (Matthew Henry’s) said that it was as if the servants were saying – “the die been cast, God’s will has been done.” Henry surmises, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”
(A side note – it’s surprising how many Christians take this attitude also, meaning a fatalistic view of a love one passing. Expressions like - “It was their time” or “God wanted them more than we did” or “God’s will has been done.” Or any other saying meant to explain why God allows certain things to happen in our lives. Nevertheless, how callous are these explanations to a five year old who lost a mother or a couple who lost their newly born baby? Sometimes it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself, and hold the poor souls who lost a love one in your arms and rain prayers of mercy and grace over the grieving family. Not uttered any dumb statements about cheap theology which is said to help us cope with death.)
Jesus tells the father he will go with him. When the arrive at the house, there’s the usual wailing and grieving, and I would suppose the usual questioning of God through petitions on “why Lord? She was a good girl” Jesus stuns the crowd with – “She’s not dead, merely sleeping.” Then laughter broke out.
“She’s not dead, merely sleeping” someone mockingly said.
“Who brought the comedian?” someone else said in sarcasm.
“Laughter is always best at time like this, my mother always said.” Came yet another response.
Jesus clears the house, takes the parents and Peter, John and James into the room where the little girl was lying. Jesus picks up her hand and says - “ Little girl, time to get up.” And the little one open her eyes.
Whatever euphemism could be said during her time on earth it was said; her number came up, God wanted her home, God will was done. Jesus comes along and says – “not today” and gives her back her life and the parents back their daughter.
So what answer was I looking in the Bible for? How to combat fatalism. I found it in a little girl.
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