Like a Thief in the Night

My grandma just passed away recently. She was fighting a battle with brain cancer, which I believe she had over the last 5 or so years. The first time it came, they treated her and she was alright for awhile. We were so happy. Then, it came around again and she just got sicker and sicker.

We would go visit her in the hospital, taking time off of work to spend time with her. I remember we were just starting to go back to church again on a regular basis, but because of the cancer, we would leave Saturday to drive from South Carolina to North Carolina to visit her, and typically come back sometime Sunday. I felt bad because she was sick and I felt bad because we couldn’t go to church.

It was hard watching my mom cry when she found out the news. Granny was so sweet. She was cool because she always wanted the family to get together. She lived in North Carolina near other family members. We had family members in Virginia and family in South Carolina. So North Carolina was our where we would meet half way, always at her house.

We would get together for Christmas at Granny’s house. We’d get together for Easter and Thanksgiving there. There were cousins and uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers, mothers, fathers, and daughters. It was beautiful how we all would hold hands in a huge circle as someone said grace for Thanksgiving. How we would wake up on Christmas morning to open presents.

I remember how I always wanted to spend more time with her, but I would put it off. I wanted to talk to her and let her know how much I loved her, but I never felt like I really made time for that. It’s hard to look back and wish about all the things you could have done.

I wanted to talk to her about Jesus. I already believe she loved him, but I wanted to share our mutual love and talk to her about my experiences, and hear about hers. I wanted to let her know how much he loved her. I could tell she already knew, but I wanted her to know more, because she deserved that.

Sometimes I wondered if she had already accepted Christ or not. But she was so passionate and caring, it’s hard to think otherwise.

Anyway, I want to share with you the scary feeling of not knowing where your family or friends will end up after they die. Some people are sure that their loved ones already love God, by how they act and how they live through him. Some people are sure that their loved ones don’t love him, also by what they do and how they act.

“Now, brothers and sisters, we do not need to write you about times and dates. You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night. While people are saying, ‘We have peace and we are safe,’ they will be destroyed quickly.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3a

The truth is, we all want to believe that we have all the time in the world to live our lives in the right way. We think that we have tomorrow to talk to this person or that person, or that we can take care of that problem next week. Then next thing you know, it is next week, and we are procrastinating again.

I am so guilty of this. I typically wait to the last minute and put things off, and then rush to get them done. The Bible says that the day the Lord comes will be like a thief in the night. It will take us by surprise, we won’t see it come it. People will guess at the time that he will come, but no one in earth knows. He will come to judge the world.

This spontaneity is also true for when people die. We honestly have no idea when someone will die. We like to think happy thoughts, that our friends and family will die at a good, old age. But statistics and history tell us differently. People die from car crashes, from overdosing and drugs, from suicide, from diseases and illnesses, such as cancer.

I expected my grandma to die in maybe mid to late 70’s, early 80’s. I didn’t think she would be taken from us at the age of 67. I could have sworn she had maybe 10 years left in her, because she was always so alive.

Big mistake making that assumption. I have a few regrets that I didn’t spend as much time with her that I would have liked to, talking to her about boys and God and love and life and happiness, sharing memories.

The fact is, we can’t choose when our loved ones will pass away, so all we can do is make the best of the time we have with them today. You shouldn’t put off calling your friend, making up with your brother; I shouldn’t put off calling my dad, being nicer to my sister. Anyone I know can be taken from me at any moment.

While I am upset that the Lord took my sweet Granny away from me a little too early, I am thankful for what he has taught me through the experience: that we don’t always have tomorrow. The fact that I didn’t get to share my love of Jesus with her puts a fear and an urgency in me to tell others about his love before it is too late. They don’t always have tomorrow, and neither do I. Something awful could happen to me tomorrow and today may be the last time I get to shine bright for the Lord.

He wants us to live with this sense of urgency, that we are here today and gone tomorrow. That we have such little breath in us, such little life in us. Each of us is only a few sentences in his gigantic book of life, so he wants us to be sure that what we say, what we contribute to the story, is something worth sharing. He wants us to have some fear in us, and not so it will cripple us, but to remind us that it’s dangerous to live passively.

Regret is not a good emotion to live with, and once someone is gone, you cannot get them back. He has reminded me to live life to the fullest, because the day comes

like a thief in the night.

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