"The Son of God, who loved me,
and gave himself for me."
Galatians 2: 20
We visit an elderly friend from our church family regularly and more often than not it takes a little while for her to register who we are. Unfortunately she suffers from Alzheimer's disease and is being cared for in a nursing home.
She is very hard at hearing, so trying to pass on a word of encouragement to her can prove difficult at times but she always appreciates us visiting. When we are there she usually does most of the talking and we sit and listen. She is a great 'story teller' as she recollects what she remembers of the past and mingles what she can remember with something that has happened recently. This can be rather amusing at times :-)
She has been moved recently to another nursing facility where she will be for the rest of her life. When we caught up with her, there she was freshly bathed, cuddled up under a warm blanket sporting her shoulder length fluffy white hair. She looked a picture of contentment.
I drew a seat closer to her and prepared to listen to her 'story telling' once again but I found this time she was very sleepy and our visit was going to be very brief. My heart was warmed at her comments as she struggled to stay awake. This day her mind wasn't drifting but was firmly focused on her beloved Lord Jesus and what He means to her. Earlier in her life she had been quite a scholar and knew in-depth meanings to Bible words and phrases I was not so familiar with.
After a little while and the usual exchange of greetings and asking how everybody there was a small silent moment when she seemed to be reflecting.
"Did you know", she said to me, "I was telling somebody today about what Jesus did on the cross, and she didn't understand what I meant when I told her that He died on the cross 'in your place'!" "What place?" the woman said to me, "when you said He died in my place, I want to know - what place?"
"Aah, then I remember," my elderly friend continued, "then I remember that the actual real rendering of this phrase is: He died - 'instead of me'!"
She savoured the words as she repeated them softly over and over again: "He died - instead of me, instead of me, instead - of - me."
It was time for me to leave. I brushed back her hair and softly planted a kiss on her forehead and she opened her sleepy eyes and smiled, then drifted off to sleep.
Reflecting on those precious moments with our friend I couldn't help but feel touched at the simplicity and sweetness of it all. There she is at the twilight of her life, and everything that might have seemed so important sometime earlier has all been brushed aside. A simple statement was all she needed to give her the sweet assurance that all is well with her soul.
I felt so thankful; for others in the home where she was being cared for were not so content and peaceful. Their minds were troubling them and some were locked in fear with seemingly no means of escape. This could have been the demise or my friend but not so with her; for she was focused on all that really matters at any time of life, let alone at the end of life's journey.
I wonder what is your focus. What is the most important thing to you. If you are spared and you get to live well into old age like my friend has who is now in her nineties what will you be thinking about. Will you then be ready to leave this life behind? Will you then be ready for eternity? What will be the most important thing to you then?
Seeing as none of us are promised tomorrow, surely it is all important for you to make sure that all is well with your soul now and being ready for eternity now would govern all the rest of your life. If you are ready to meet with God now, then you are ready to live life to the full. And a full life is one that God has planned, full of depth and joy!
That simple statement reminds me of a man who lived two thousand years ago. Barabbas was his name. Unfortunately he was a criminal and was on 'death row' as it were. It was the custom for the Romans who were rulers of that day to crucify malefactors and the day for his demise was fast approaching. What must have been going through his mind as the day drew near? He probably didn't sleep the night before the appointed day and not long after the sun arose there came the sound of approaching footsteps. The prison guard was coming to take him to his death!
But wait, something is different! The dungeon door is flung open and for a moment of time Barabbas is blinded by the morning light. The silhouetted figure of the guard stands before him with a message he doesn't understand: "Barabbas, you're free to go."
"Why?" Says Barabbas.
The guard gestures to the prisoner and tells him to: "Come and follow me and I'll show you."
He follows the guard out from his cell and into the day light. The guard points to three crosses situated outside the city walls where three men have just been impaled. Two of them he can just about recognise as his fellow companions in crime but the man on the centre cross he is not familiar with.
"See? Someone is dying instead of you, now you are a free man!
What is must have meant to Barabbas to see that Jesus was dying in his place we will never know but this perfectly demonstrates the essence of the Gospel message. That is we are guilty sinners but Jesus died in our place. I wonder how many reading this can honestly say in all sincerity "I am a guilty sinner but Jesus died for me!"
To treasure this truth within the depths of your heart will be the all important factor for all the days of your life and for the endless ages yet to come.
Jesus died 'instead - of - me'!
See related link - 'Barabbas'