NEW YORK ~ Soon after Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte, NC, the pilot came over the loudspeaker and said, “Brace for impact.”The plane had no power and was gliding down toward the Hudson River at 170 mph.
Passenger Vallie Collins, wife and mother of three children, grabbed her phone and sent a text message to her family, “My plane is crashing.”There was no time to add the final three words she wanted to include:“I love you.”Miraculously, all 155 people aboard the plane survived.
(Some quotes are borrowed from an article by SAMANTHA GROSS, Associated Press Writer)
When Vallie Collins’ husband received the text message it was thirty agonizing minutes before he knew anything other than his wife’s plane was crashing.He must have thought those would be the last words he would ever hear from her.The number one thing on Vallie’s mind before the crash was her family but there was no time to say what was really on her heart.
At the end of every phone conversation, my wife and I will say, “I love you,” and then the other will quickly reply, “Love you, too.”It has almost become an automatic expression.But after reading this story about the plane crash, when our phone conversations end now, I often say, “Sherry!I really love you.”
Last words.They are so important that in a court of law, death bed statements are admissible as evidence even though they are unsworn and cannot be validated by the person who said them.
In our lives the last words we hear or speak before rushing out the door should be words of endearment, encouraging words, or words of blessing.But sometimes they are not… they are words of rebuke, or scolding; even words of anger and remorse.Don’t let your last words be words of regret, but let them be words someone would like to remember if they really were your last.
The last words of Jesus were powerful, but also full of love and encouragement.In response to a question about the restoration of the Kingdom, He first spoke a soft rebuke:“It is not for you to know the times or dates…”(Acts 1:7)
But just before Jesus left, He let us know what He expected of us, and that He trusted us to carry out the mission.In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “And you will be my witnesses.”Wow!What an affirmation of love and trust!To be the witnesses of Christ, our words should always be empowering and loving.Even when it is necessary to rebuke or scold, the last thing a person should hear is that we love them and believe in them.
Guard your words carefully… you never know when your plane will crash.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, protect my relationships with others, not for my sake but for theirs.If a conversation with someone is unexpectedly my last, may the words I speak be a blessing instead of a curse; let there be no “what-ifs” or guilt in their minds because in a moment of haste I failed to speak from Your heart.Amen and amen.
Do you remember the 1970 movie, “Love Story” starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal?It was powerful and heart-wrenching when one realized that their story wouldn’t have the “expected” happy ending we look for in movies.I can still remember the most poignant line, “love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Fast forward to 2010 and meet Sabrina Parker, a normal 15 year old who loved the “Twilight” series of movies, hanging out with friends and at the mall, using Facebook, roller skating and roller coasters.Sounds like a typical teenager doesn’t it?Unfortunately, her story doesn’t have an expected happy ending either; but maybe it does.
Sabrina was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.Inherited, her grandmother died at age 46 and her mother died at 24 with the same disease.About this same time, Matt Scozzari entered her life.A boyfriend that was mature beyond his years.She had lost so much in life already and would lose more, so she only shared the diagnosis with close friends, but kept it from him for some time.In fact, when he noted her shortness of breath and other symptoms, she would dismiss them as nothing serious.But serious it was.She didn’t want to risk losing Matt too…
To add another dimension to the story, Matt had his own personal struggles.Doctors thought he was mildly autistic, but it was determined it was a slight learning disability because he had trouble reading. His words would often come out in a jumble, making him the target of bullies.
After watching his maternal grandmother waste away from pancreatic cancer, he began disobeying his parents and hanging out with the wrong crowd.But, things changed in middle school when he started playing football and soccer and liking girls.
There was something special about Sabrina - a feistiness, a spark in her eye - that reminded him of his grandmother. After admiring her from afar he asked her out and she accepted without hesitation.
They went to movies and the mall and he waited a while before giving her a first kiss.She did her best to hide the illness, but it became increasingly difficult – her speech was hard to understand and she was losing weight.(Normally, the younger the patient, the slower the disease's progression, but Sabrina was deteriorating rapidly.)
Doctors suggested that she have a tracheotomy and perhaps a ventilator and advised that she should draft a living will to make her wishes clear.Imagine being 15 years old with that weight on your shoulders…
As her 16th birthday approached, she commented on Facebook about the green satin dress she'd picked out for the occasion; Matt escorted her to the party.Two of Sabrina’s friends broke the news about the dreaded disease to Matt.While he didn’t know exactly what it was, he knew it was bad.
Sabrina found him sobbing at the news and inquired, "Are you going to leave me now?" she asked."I will never leave you," he replied. "No matter what."They held each other and cried.
Matt’s mother was very concerned about the likely path of the disease and advised her son that it was a lot for him to take on.He replied that he couldn’t walk out on her.Sabrina would face tough decisions and he felt it was his job to support her.
"This is her journey,"Mrs. Scozzari said. "You can walk beside her, but you cannot control her journey for her."
The Make A Wish Foundation granted Sabrina's second choice - a trip to the newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Fla.Matt was able to join her and her family and refused to do anything she couldn’t.
She had dreams, like most young people – to attend the prom, to finish high school, to go to college, get married, have children.She didn’t like the way things were going and thought to herself “why does it have to be me?”
When she couldn’t attend homecoming, they brought the homecoming to her.When the Scozzari’s knew that their son was madly in love with a terminally ill girl, they were extremely worried.He too dreamed of marriage--to Sabrina.
Marriage was out of the question, of course, but there was something called a “friendship ceremony.”Matt loved the idea and asked Sabrina’s grandparents for permission before he asked Sabrina.
While Mrs. Parker thought it was a sweet idea, her husband wasn’t certain.It was going to be tough enough on the young man to lose a girlfriend and having a formal ceremony with a minister – well, he finally went along.The ceremony was slated for Nov. 20.
A couple of weeks prior to their ceremony, Matt let Sabrina know that while he’d be sad, it was OK for her to stop fighting.She needn’t be scared because her mom, grandma and Uncle Chrissy would be there to meet her.
Even though she had problems with fainting and a few other ailments as the day approached, she felt good – living her life, doing what she could while she still had time.
While Sabrina wanted an actual wedding dress, her grandparents didn’t think it appropriate, so they found an ivory sheath embroidered in gold with a matching shawl.One of her nurses did a double row of French braids.
The same garage that held the Homecoming dance now was transformed with Christmas lights, and strewn with red, pink and white rose petals.
Matt and Sabrina sat holding hands as the minister led prayers and when it was time for their vows, Matt turned to Sabrina and clasped her hands in his.
"Sabrina. I know that these few months or the year that we've been dating have been really hard," he said in a halting but firm voice. "We've had our ups and downs, but I KNOW that whatever happens, that I know I want to stay with you - and that I wish it would be longer."
He had changed, he said, "from somebody who didn't really care to somebody who had something to live for and care for," he said. "Being around you just makes me smile ... I'm hoping that you think the same way."
Sabrina smiled and nodded.They exchanged matching silver bands - Claddagh rings, with a pair of hands clutching a heart topped by a crown. All around them, there was applause, and tears.They posed for pictures under an arbor decorated with garland and fairy lights.
Later, back home and unable to sleep, Sabrina logged onto Facebook.
"tonight was the most amazing night ever," she wrote. "iam glad that me and matt got to do the freindship ceremonoy together i love what matt said and he is the love of my life matthew i love you i will be with you no matter what happens"
A couple of hours later, Matt posted his own message:
"Tonight you made me feel like the luckiest man alive!!" he wrote. "i hope tonight proved that I would walk to the ends of the earth and back for you. I may not be able to offer you diamonds and everything your heart desires but I hope that my love for you will be enough at the moment. No matter what the future has in store for you (us) know that I will be there with you forever and always!!"
Sabrina died in her sleep on Nov. 29 after Matt stayed through the night, holding her hand and telling her he would be OK.
When the hearse came, Matt leaned down to kiss her on the forehead.
"Thank you for saving me," he whispered.
Among the songs Sabrina had chosen for her funeral was a country ballad by The Band Perry:
"If I die young bury me in satin "Lay me down on a bed of roses "Sink me in the river at dawn "Send me away with the words of a love song."
She was buried in her Sweet 16 dress, a single red rose from Matt on the pillow beside her head.
The boy who had to be cajoled to do his homework has been studying the disease. He set up a meeting with the president of the Raleigh ALS chapter.
Prayer:Father , how many of us would perish at the thought of loving someone to the depth of these two young people, knowing that one would not survive?Most adults probably would run the other way, not wanting to face the inevitable.And, yet here are two individuals who handled Your gift of love with more maturity and sacrificially than many of us will ever experience.
Many of us who have loved and lost through less threatening situations, aren’t particularly anxious to open up our hearts to experience the possibilities.We have built a barrier to protect ourselves from the pain and, most assuredly, any possible joy.It is easier we think, but is that really true?As Oliver said in “Love Story,”
“You put up a big glass wall to keep from getting hurt. But it also keeps you from getting touched. It's a risk, isn't it, Jenny? At least I had the guts to admit what I felt. Someday you're gonna have to come up with the courage to admit you care.”
Help us to love You, and ourselves and to risk our total being to blossom in the fullness of love, the kind that You demonstrate daily…through compassion and connection with us.
Help us to show that we, too, can love and care as deeply as Sabrina and Matt.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry…”
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Have a Heart after God
“I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.” Psalms 89:3-4 [Selah in Hebrew means "pause and ponder this!"]
“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David the son of Abraham…” Matthew 1:1
New Testament genealogies of Jesus the Christ all identify Him as the son of King David. It was universally understood from the Old Testament that the messiah would be descended from David and that he would restore the Davidic monarchy to its ultimate and most universal expression, and that even this king would reign and sit on the throne forever.
Why was Jesus' identification with David so significant? One reason is that David is the only man in the Bible about whom the Lord said, this is "a man after My own heart". Yet we know well David's imperfections ... adultery and murder - so why would God say this about him? I believe it was David's lifelong love for and abandoned worship of the Lord, and also his contrite heart (Ps. 51) and the depth of his sorrow and repentance which showed this relationship to be the most important and precious in his life.
God isn't expecting perfection from us - His Son has provided that. Jesus alone is the Man whose heart and actions are flawless. But David exemplified a man whose love and respect for his God were constant, if imperfect, a man after God's own heart. And this is the heart that God is seeking today, contrite, worshipful, and filled with respect and love for our God.
David provides a wonderful example for us who are as imperfect as he was. We may fall and fail miserably - but its how we get up that makes the difference. Our constant desire to preserve this most precious of all relationships will show that we too have a heart after God. I know I want to hear Him say, "Yes, you are truly someone after my own heart!"
Same game, two different newspapers:the 2009 headlines from The Tampa Tribune declared, “Offense Misses Point in Crunch Time.”Meanwhile, another BCS Championship article by the USA Today headlines said, “Defensive Teammates Didn’t Disappoint in Crunch Time.”
Anyone who has experienced the storm which comes just before a deadline knows all about crunch time.It’s that critical period of time after the next-to-last milestone which precedes the final deadline; it’s the time when the boss is pulling her hair out, screaming orders to everyone and no one simultaneously; it’s the do-or-die time, put up or shut up, get it right, don’t- you-dare-quit-until-it’s-done time!
So, you’ve been there, too?
I thought about crunch time when I saw a large billboard at the intersection of three major highways in Memphis, TN, the busiest traffic exchange in the city. In peaceful colors of pink and light blue, the large letters asked simply, “Why Islam?” with their web address printed at the bottom. When I surfed their website, the first words said:
WHAT IS ISLAM?
Islam is much more than a formal religion: it is an integral way of life. In many ways it is more a determining factor in the experience of its followers than any other world religion. The Muslim ("One who submits") lives face to face with God at all times and will introduce no separation between his life and his religion, his politics and his faith. With its strong emphasis on the brotherhood of men cooperating to fulfill the will of God…
How different is that from Christianity? We believe that there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven, just as the Muslims do. We search for truth just as they do. What is the difference?
Our search ends in divine truth; the search of the Muslim ends in futility.
But there is another difference between Christianity and Islam. They are passionate about their doctrine and practice it faithfully. They are 100% invested in what they believe. I fear that, for the majority of Christians, we are not.
Beloved, these are treacherous times and we need to speak out about our Christian faith, but our voices are being scrambled by denominationalism and many other isms which I choose not to mention. It is time for more prayer for our world AS WELL AS something more than prayer. It is a time for action because it is CRUNCH TIME… it is the critical period of time which precedes the final deadline.Victory is at hand.Defeat is not an option.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, remind me that the “Game of Life” isn’t over until You say so.Give me courage to stand toe-to-toe with evil and to remain faithful until the end.Amen and amen.
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ lay down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
What if we were faced as Christians are in so many nations to either turn against your faith in Christ or suffer the consequences?
Wow. Can you imagine being faced with a decision to run or die for our faith? We are living in a day where this could very well become reality! But how many of us would be willing to stand?
We would all say to one another "I will die before I deny Christ." I'd like to believe I would never deny Him.
For us to be able to stand for Christ and die for our faith in Him, we need to start deepening our relationship with the Lord today, by focusing our minds on heavenly things rather than being consumed with the weight of all the worldly ones. Then it would be easier for us to make a stand for Him should that day ever come. There's so much work to be done!