This week’s article is written by Pastor Don Long of Godfrey First United Methodist Church, 1100 Airport Road.
I recently had the opportunity to listen to a talk given by Matthew O’Reilly, an emergency medical technician who has worked for seven years on Long Island, N.Y.
He described how he came to honestly answer the grave question he sometimes faces, “Am I going to die?” For a long time he chose to be dishonest in his answer to this question of impending doom. Professionally knowing the patient was going to die, but afraid he would cause great anxiety and fear, Matthew would reassure the individual that they would be fine.
Then one day, he answered differently. He was honest with the patient, and told them truth: “There’s nothing I can do; you are going to die.” The patient’s reaction was shocking, he simply laid back with a look of acceptance on his face, and with inner peace in his eye. Matthew decided it was not his place to comfort the dying with his lies. So he committed himself to telling the truth, and in doing so he found most people faced it with inner peace and acceptance, and that three patterns emerged; nearly everyone, as they faced death, had a need for forgiveness, a desire to be remembered, and a hope that their life had meaning.
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” I don’t know about taxes, but I know death is absolute (at least until someone finds the fountain of youth). Now I don’t mean to sound morbid, but absolutes tend to reveal truth, absolutely! “Forgive me; Remember me; Value me” — according to Matthew’s experience, these are at least the most basic things we all want, and I tend to agree with him. Where do you need forgiveness in your life? Who will remember you? What will others value in you? To paraphrase Scripture: the best way to be forgiven is to forgive (Matthew 6:14), the most likely way to be remembered is to do something memorable (John 13:35) and the greatest impact is made by the most valuable things given in the most impactful way (John 14:12). Truth is we all have the opportunity to make a difference in the world: to forgive, to remember and to value, but we don’t have all the time in the world to do it. Now is the time.