Dear family and friends:
Like us, you probably spent time last week praying for and empathizing with the victims of the brutal massacre on the Virginia Tech campus. No Campus Crusade staffmembers were killed, but four of the victims attended Campus Crusade meetings. Molly Donohue, a freshman involved in Campus Crusade ministry at Virginia Tech, was the first to discover the first victim, Emily Hilscher, her next-door neighbor at West Ambler Johnston Hall.
Isn’t it shocking how actual life differs from how we imagine, or would prefer, it to be? We expect to eat, drink, marry and be given in marriage, (Matt. 24:37-42) graduate college, plan careers and families.
Of course, on the one hand, this is what we have to do. But on the other hand, the implied warning in Jesus’ words is, don’t let your heart be fully invested in the things that aren’t going to last. (See Matt. 6:19-33) Because life occasionally throws some huge upsets, regardless of how content we are with our routine. Monday, April 16, 2007 was tragically such an upset for Emily Hilscher, Ryan Clark and many other young people who seemingly had very bright futures ahead of them.
Today will be a tragic day for many families; because death, even if it’s not accidental, occurs all-too-suddenly for everyone. Jesus warned of its unexpected nature when He said, “except ye repent, you will all likewise perish.” (See Luke 13:1-5) It’s why the Bible warns, “Today, while you can hear His voice, harden not your heart.” It’s also why we’re working to get His message delivered to millions before their day comes. Dan Lee, the leader of our recent staff devotional on heaven, made a challenge to us. Spend some time now, while there is time, to leave behind a recorded message to be played back for loved ones after our own death. Let it be a last plea to those who are putting off a decision for Christ.
I recently listened to a podcast from Christian speaker Ken Boa, recorded the week following September 11, 2001. He reflected on the sights and sounds that were burned into our consciousness on that day…but may be half-repressed for us today: people jumping hand-in-hand from burning windows…recorded messages from those on the ground or in the hijacked planes, like this heart-wrenching one: “Mommy, the building is on fire, there’s smoke coming through the walls. I can’t breathe. I love you, Mommy, good-bye.”
What’s really important, when it comes right down to it? Toward what thoughts do people turn their focus when they know they’re about to leave this earth? What would it be important to communicate from death’s door, or leave behind as a message?