Cape Town Recap 1: Your last thought before you die

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Most of us on the South African Airways flight from Johannesburg to Dulles (Washington DC) were from the Congress. A camaraderie bustled between us. I sat next to Andrew who works with businessmen. We had a great conversation, enjoyed dinner, then landed in Dakar, Senegal to refuel. Airborne again, we chatted a bit, then both went to sleep as it was late-late-late.

Suddenly the plane dropped wildly, my stomach lurching in the process. People around me gasped. For a split second I thought we’d experienced turbulence but in the next moment, the plane’s nose dipped violently, eliciting more gasps and hollers from the people around me. It felt like we were falling from the sky.

I’m really not sure how long this lasted, probably a few seconds or more, but it moved in slow motion. I grabbed my chair. The natural word that flew from my mouth was Jesus. Then Jesus again. And again. A desperate, helpless prayer. In that moment, I thought I was going to die. (I’ve been on hundreds of flights. This has been the scariest incident to date.) I knew the cold Atlantic was beneath us, no safe place to land.

The pilot steadied the aircraft, but never once announced what happened. A friend who looked into it said, “Looking at the weather when you flew home you flew into a major storm in the east that was producing the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded.”

Here is what my last thought was: I wonder if my final words to my family were encouraging. I remembered emailing/facebooking my daughters, son, and husband. The sudden realization that even my written words meant something significant, particularly in light of eternity, sobered me. This is not a game, life. It’s real. It’s important. And what we do with the time we have will show our mettle, our verve, our commitment to the King we serve.

Life is a breath, a vapor. I did feel at peace in the moment our plane plunged. I knew I’d be with Jesus. But I so much, in that instant, wanted desperately for my life to count, for my words to reach people, for my sacrifice to be real.

All that to say, if God has given you a gift and has prompted you to use it for the Kingdom, why are you waiting? He has given me the gift of words (it is His gift; after all He is the Word and the author of The Word). What I do with them is the measure of my obedience. Even in the small ways I wield them–in short emails to my family, in the way I respond to a friend, in the books I write, and here on this blog that has become a sacred space for me.

Q4u: Have you ever faced death? What was your last thought? And did that last thought change your life today?

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