This evening as I was driving home from a family gathering, I was reminded of the fact that today is the one week anniversary of the death of Ali Arbogast, a teenage girl in our town who died in an accident caused by drinking alcohol and driving. This has been a long, intense week of mourning in Pontiac, Illinois. As I reflect on this tragic event, a number of important issues come to mind.
1) We never know when our last day on earth will be. So often we live today as if tomorrow is a guarantee. It's truly not. Because we may meet our Maker at any moment, there is an imminent need for us to always live knowing that we will soon stand before God.
2) We should treasure every moment we have with our loved ones. I know one of Ali's cousins very well. I asked her Monday morning what her last words to Ali were. She said on Friday they hugged one another and said, "I love you," because they knew they wouldn't see each other that weekend. The terrible thing was that they wouldn't see each other again. I'm so happy that my friend will always remember her parting words to her cousin. I was also reminded of another person who died in a driving accident whose funeral was held at our church. He was arguing with his wife on his cell phone when he ran a stop sign, hit another automobile, and then died.
3) We should be humbled by all the times we have been preserved by the grace of God. When I think back to all of the numerous times I drove while intoxicated, I'm blown away by the way I never received what I deserved. As someone who has since become a Christian, I thank God that my life didn't end before Jesus saved me. If you have been living a life of partying and getting drunk, stop today. Acknowledge you've been spared. Repent of your sin. Turn to God. Receive forgiveness through Jesus' death for your sins. Commit yourself to a life of sober dedication to God.
4) The pain of those left behind never goes away. When my father died, I told a group of friends that I thought I had gotten over the grief, only to find myself once again overwhelmed by the loss of my Dad. A friend who had lost her husband a few years before said, "The pain never goes away. You just learn to live with it." The rest of us will feel the pain of the loss of our own loved ones. Ali's family will feel the pain of her absense at every family gathering they ever have and many times in between .
Whoever you are, turn to Jesus today. You never know which day will be your last. Your choices will follow you into eternity.
Please say a prayer for Ali's family and friends who carry with them the incredible pain of their loss.