It was May 8, and the radio DJ announced, “Today is Ricky Nelson’s birthday,” as he prepped Nelson’s song, “Travelin’ Man.”
Nelson was a TV star and a pop singer of the golden oldies era who had 54 hits on Billboard’s “Hot 100.” He, sadly, left us at age 45.
He flew from Guntersville after a concert tour and the plane crashed north of Dallas, killing seven of its nine passengers.
I recently remembered 2023 being the 40th anniversary of the untimely death of another great singer, Karen Carpenter, age 32.
I imagine 99 percent of us won’t die in a plane crash, or of anorexia, but will simply fall asleep and wake up in the presence of God. The God who gave us the breath of life will retract it and summon us to himself.
According to a United Nations study, the average lifespan in America is 79. I determined after learning this to move to Hong Kong or Japan when I reach 79 since they live six years longer than Americans!
We may have a general idea of our lifespan, but we don’t know it with specificity. Sometimes medical staff can tell us about approaching death in a few weeks, or days or hours.
But this isn’t true for most of us. My dad lived to 92 and my mom died at 72. But I have no idea when my death is circled on God’s eternal calendar. Nor do you.
That’s why the scripture exhorts us to make today a day of decision. The lawgiver Moses challenged the Israelites, “See, today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30: 15, 19).
And the New Testament writer of Hebrews agreed: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).
One of the criminals on Calvary rejected Christ as an imposter and fellow criminal. The other malefactor sensed the presence of God that day and asked Jesus for mercy. These are two decisions. But a third decision is to delay. This is what Gov. Felix did.
The Apostle Paul was incarcerated in the Roman fortress at Caesarea after his arrest in Jerusalem. He shared the gospel with two governors and then later with King Herod Agrippa II. Gov. Felix trembled when he heard God’s truth, but determined he’d do nothing that day and hear more from his prisoner later. He had mixed motives, too, in that he wanted a bribe. But we have no record the governor ever revisited the issue of his relationship with God.
It’s been said the devil’s word is “tomorrow,” but God’s word is always “today.”
“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.