Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
- TITLE: Finding Life in the Twilight
By Eddie Snipes
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As a young boy, Tom idolized his father and declared that his goal was to be just like Daddy. John was a pastor who had hopes that his son would follow his lead into the ministry and for sixteen years it looked as though he would. He often proudly showcased his knowledge of scripture. When the church had youth night, Tom proclaimed from the pulpit the doctrines he had been taught throughout his childhood.
Soon after turning sixteen, things began to change. As Tom raced toward manhood he struggled to find his own identity. As a child he took pride in being like his father, but now his attitude was changing. He wanted his own identity but did not know who that was. To fulfill his desire for belonging he turned to the companionship of friends who seemed to enjoy life. These young men scoffed at the church life and mocked the fetters of religion. Their camaraderie carried Tom far away from the faith of his upbringing. Through the teen years and early adulthood, Tom committed himself to the partying lifestyle. Though these seemed to be fun for a time, as the day descended into the twilight, he always felt empty inside. It seemed that there had to be more to life than what he was experiencing. He sought hope in the bottle but found none. He sought fulfillment in relationships but found emptiness. The more he tried to find his identity, the less he felt like a person.
Tom married a woman that made him feel complete, but as the feelings faded the emptiness returned. Tom became frustrated in his marriage when his wife could not meet the unknown needs in his life and the expectation placed upon her was more than she could endure. After eight years his marriage ended in divorce and Tom returned to the bottle for comfort. Three marriages later he was still unable to find a companion that would meet his needs. Tom’s strongest connection to faith died when his father passed away in 1987. For the next twenty-one years Tom lost himself in alcohol and the dim bar lights. The bottle was his only friend and his worst enemy.
When his childhood friends were enjoying retirement, he was struggling to survive and scrounge up enough money to drown his misery. At the age of sixty-nine Tom began to feel increasingly tired and weak. He was frightened one morning when he looked in the mirror and saw that his skin looked yellow. He was soon diagnosed with an advanced case of Cirrhosis of the Liver. As the weeks passed his illness grew worse and he realized that this was the twilight of his life. Now broken and fearful, he began to cry out to the God he turned his back on so many years ago. He called an old church friend who met with him to share the message of Christ. For the first time in his life this message actually had meaning and now he realized the value of a new life in Christ. As he prayed, he surrendered all and the heaviness of his heart lifted. Something changed inside him and suddenly life made sense. The emptiness was gone and he understood what it meant to live. Why had he waited until the last hour of his life to find what it meant to live?
Though his health failed, he found the strength to share his faith with any who will listen. In the moments before his passing he cried in prayer saying that he wasted his life and felt he deserved nothing from the Lord. On the day of his passing he asked that the scriptures be read to comfort him. His life ended in the twilight of April 11, 2009 and the last words he heard was Matthew 20, “These men who have labored but one hour received the same wages as us who have labored the whole day”.
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