Recently in my home country there has been a surge or sudden, unexpected deaths. Some have speculated about the presence of lead in the water, while there were other conspiracies about people secretly being poisoned.
However, the Ministry of Health quieted these rumours by explaining that most of the autopsies revealed undiagnosed or untreated non-communicable diseases (NCDs). However, as I watched international news networks it seemed like this issue was common worldwide, perhaps not because of NCDs but shootings, terrorist attacks, wars, natural disasters and hunger.
In the midst of these catastrophes, a friend of mine told me about the death of a successful stage manager that I'd once interviewed in college. No more than two hours later did two other friends living in different countries tell me about the sudden deaths of their co-workers.
My heart sank and I could not help but wonder what plans they had made before their deaths. Had they left home that morning with the intentions of cooking a pot of spaghetti when they returned, or helping their child with their homework? Had they bought plane tickets for a vacation at the end of the month, or signed up for a gym membership that they never got to?
That night I tried to count the number of persons that myself and those close to me had lost during our lifetimes, and realised that in quite a few cases, none of them saw Mr. Death coming with his army, his sickle or his wrestling clothes, like Troy did in August Wilson's Fences. They were simply here one day and gone the next.
Recently, I studied the story of King Belshazzar in Daniel chapter 5. He was the son of Nebuchadnezzar, the conceited king who God cut down to size by making him live like an animal until he acknowledged that God was the Most High.
However, like his father, Belshazzar thought that he was the greatest and somehow seemed to have learnt nothing from his father's punishment. So in this chapter he had a party and used the sacred goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem.Then he and his guests proceeded to praise pagan gods while they drank wine from them.
So God sent him a message which appeared on his wall, and when Daniel interpreted it, it was a warning of his days coming to an end and his kingdom being divided because of his disobedience. However, the chapter goes on to say that God had Belshazzar killed that very night.
My first reaction to this was "woah, that's cruel..." However, as I thought about the two major warnings he had received, the first being his father's testimony and the second the writing on the wall. I wondered why did he not simply ask God to forgive his sins.
Perhaps Belshazzar was too busy between the time he heard the interpreted warning and the time he died. But what could be more important than heeding a life or death warning from the God of the universe?
As I pondered this, I realised that many of us are more similar to Belshazzar than we may think. Perhaps none of us have ever received writings in an ancient language by a ghostly hand on our dining room wall; but, we have all seen the news and heard the testimonies of others.
Thus, wouldn't it be accurate to say that we are being warned every day, from the fact that we could be killed because of the colour of our skin, our wealth or lack thereof, the uniform we wear, or because of something as random as a stroke or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore, how do we not see that tomorrow is never the "right time" to get our lives in order?
Based on history and the fact that it often repeats itself, we can all deduce that today is: the right time to pray for our souls, to forgive, to pray for our friends, family and enemies, to make an effort to spend time talking to God and reading his word, and to savour every moment that we have been given.
This reality has made me a lot more conscious and intentional about the way that I love people, though life often thrusts me in the opposite direction. More importantly it has made me more intentional about the priority that I give to God in my everyday life. Though the consistency of my intentionality has often wavered, the warning in Ephesians chapter 5 verse 16 serves as a constant reminder, as it urges us to make the best use of our time, in these evil days.
Therefore may we live by the words of Proverbs chapter 6 verses 4 and 5, "Don't put it off; do it now! Don't rest until you do. Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net."
Danielle Jones was born on the beautiful island of Barbados to phenomenal parents. She currently works as an English Language teaching assistant at La Universidad Francisco de Paula Santander in the city of Cúcuta, Colombia. She hopes to be fluent in Spanish very soon, as well as to be an example of the love of Christ wherever she goes.
Danielle Jones' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-jones.html