General William Nelson was a Union general in the Civil War. Though he faced death every day, he never prepared for his own. Who knows what he was thinking as he rode into battle after battle? Maybe he was too busy staying alive to prepare for death.
All that changed, however, one day as he was relaxing in a house with his men. A brawl broke out, and he was shot in the chest. Knowing he was dying, he had only one request: “Send for a clergyman.”
What had happened? Why the urgency? Did the general suddenly learn something about God that he had never known? No. But he did learn something about himself. He realized death was near. Suddenly only one thing mattered.
Why hadn’t it mattered before? Couldn’t he have said yes to God the week before or that very morning? Absolutely. Why didn’t he? Why was the salvation of his soul so urgent after the shot and so optional before it? Why had he postponed his decision to accept Christ until his deathbed?
Because he assumed he had time.
A dangerous assumption. “Teach us how short our lives really are,” prayed Moses, “so that we may be wise” (Ps. 90:12).
A Gentle Thunder