[NOTICE: Names changed in the interest of privacy]
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Talking about a walk, I was leisurely walking a couple days ago. I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular – just enjoying the unusually nice weather and watching my shadow and shoes come together as each foot touched the ground.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you just sensed that something was going to happen but you weren’t sure just what? You know, that uneasy feeling that you just can’t quite put your finger on?
I had one of those moments.
There’s not much you can do in one of those moments but just continue what you are doing and hope that uncomfortable feeling passes.
All I know is that within a few minutes my cell phone rang and it was my wife, Rhonda.
“You need to get to the ICU at the Lincoln County Medical Center now!” She informed me that one of our friends was there and wasn’t expected to live.
You can see why I just can’t quite call those feelings a coincidence but I really can’t say they’re anything else either.
I arrived at the hospital about 15 minutes after her call ended. Being a pastor, I have scouted out alternate entrances and was at ICU, without navigating the crowed main entrance, within a few seconds.
What awaited me was a semi-familiar sight: the tubes, the bags of antibiotics, that tell-tale smell of hospital that one never quite gets used to – regardless of how many times you encounter it.
I had just visited another friend and congregation member just down the hall from ICU the day before. Her boyfriend and I saw one another at the same time outside her room as he exited and I was passing by.
“Everything arite?” he enquired as I briefly stopped and visited with him for a few seconds.
“Visiting another patient,” I replied explaining it wasn’t anyone that he knew personally. “I’ll stop by a little later and see how Linda is doing.”
“K,” he acknowledged.
Continuing down the hallway to the entrance to ICU, I met the husband of the person I had been called to visit coming out. “How’s she doing?” I questioned –noticing the haggard look through the three-day stubble on his face.
“Not good,” he replied. “They said if she doesn’t rally by tomorrow – she won’t make it.”
You’re probably wondering why I am telling you all this.
Here’s my answer.
Have you ever heard of one of the 7 deadly sins called sloth? Being a preacher, I have preached on the topic several times in my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was going to be preaching on it again the next day.
That comes next.
When we entered ICU and I walked up to the bed. She was just lying lying there – tubes going everywhere.
She was completely unconscious (she had entered a coma the night before) and the beeping and chattering of the various kinds of medical technology keeping her alive (although we didn’t realize that at the time) were the only sounds in the room.
Except for her labored and artificial breathing – being provided (compliments of modern medical intervention).
“At that moment, it hit me – it hit me so hard it hurt.”
She wasn’t just dying physically. Unless something had changed since the last time I had spoken with her, she wasn’t saved!
“Ralph, do you know if Sarah has excepted Christ since the last time I talked to her about it? Here comes the hard part.
“No, not to my knowledge, she hasn’t.” he replied.
What made it hard was my knowledge that it had been over a year since I had last spoken to her. Even though they live in another city and it is hard for us to see one another as we used to, it troubled me.
Sarah died this morning, a Monday.
It happened just 20 minutes after they took her off all life support.
The day before, my sermon was on the sin of Sloth (being a slacker). The approach centered not on just physical but spiritual sloth. The sloth in not doing the work necessary to know that you have done all you can to keep another from the jaws of hell.
I know, I know. You’re thinking that I talked several times over the years, why am I feeling guilty because it was likely she died unsaved.
Being a pastor, I feel that I could have made another effort of two during the past year.
I told the congregation to remember the following two verses as they go about their Christian duties:
- Ecclesiastes 10:18 (ESV): 18 Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.
- Romans 12:11 (MontgomeryNT): 11 In your diligence be free from sloth. Be glowing in spirit. Slave for the master.
The first verse is saying that if we enter into the sin of spiritual sloth, everything about our walk with Christ and our duties to Him will suffer.
The second verse informs us not to allow sloth to become our lot. We Christians are bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. We are not our own but slaves to the Master, Jesus Christ.
Will I be accountable for Sarah if she entered eternity unsaved?
Am I responsible by omission if she is in hell?
I pray she heard me even though she was unconscious trying to lead her to Christ. Perhaps she did. When I asked her if she heard me, she squeezed my fingers.
A sign that she had heard and responded?
I’ll never know this side of eternity.
I pray this prayer for you, the reader.
Father God, praise your glorious name. I pray in agreement with my readers that they will never allow spiritual sloth to prevent them from performing the Great Commission command of Jesus when they are presented with divine appointment opportunities. Grant them a double portion of perseverance and dedication to the labor in God’s fields. It’s in Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Pray for my friend’s husband.
I humbly ask that you pray for me too.
Until next time,
Please comment and help the readership in discussing spiritual issues. Thanks!
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on spiritual slackness or sloth?