I was nearly mugged by two Riley-looking teen boys, one in a blue-hooded coat and the other in a red-hooded one, less than a block away from my home. While I am thrilled to see that the Crips and the Bloods are now working together in harmony, I’ve certainly had better nights. This one, however, had started off pretty great.
The weather was in the 60’s and I had spent my lunch strolling around the city and drinking in the sunshine. It was because I’d had such a lovely lunch break that I’d decided to walk home last night. I was literally singing out loud on the way home, I was in such a great mood: “All of me! Why not take alllllll of me?” I sang. Apparently these boys took that as an invitation. Though I had noticed a group of five boys talking loudly with each other and walking in my direction, I did not pay them any attention as I turned a corner onto a side-street of $500k town homes. I was practically home, I live in a relatively safe neighborhood, what was there to be concerned about? I’d noticed a car parked in front of one home had its interior lights on. “They’ll be sorry in the morning,” I said out loud in an obnoxious British accent — I do accents sometimes, it’s just something I do…nevermind…Anyway, that could’ve been the last thing I said. Walking home could’ve been the last thing I did.
The boy in blue ran up in front of me but was still a healthy distance away. It startled me, so I looked behind and I saw the boy in red. I crossed the street and reached for my phone. The boy in red followed me and I lost sight of the boy in blue. The boy in red pulled the drawstrings on his hood so I couldn’t see his face at all, but he also couldn’t really see except out of one of his eyes. “Gimme $50, Gimme $50!” the red boy said. I was not persuaded to do so. Instead, I dialed 911, though I didn’t press send. I was so close to my apartment, if I could just get inside the gate…”Gimme $50!” The red boy said again, louder, building his confidence. I glanced back and he was gripping something in his left pocket, holding up his jacket so that I could see, or at least believe he had something in there. I turned back around, still clutching my phone, my finger dangling over the send button, determined to get into my gate. They’ll shoot me in the back. I thought, and the middle of my back tingled in anticipation, but I kept walking. And nothing else happened.
Before I could get to my gate, I saw a young woman with her hands full of groceries. She smiled at me neighborly, and I probably scared her to death when I whisper-screamed, “be careful!” But I made it into my gate, without seeing or hearing the boys’, or the young woman’s voice again.
It wasn’t until I was safely inside my gate that I became afraid. What if this hadn’t been their first try? What if the red boy had had a gun for real? What if this had been my last day alive??! I instantly replayed the day.
I woke up in a sour mood, like I’ve had a tendency to do lately. I was rude to a man on the train that morning. Not just a random man. A man who had disrespected me often and through so many years that I’d decided to hate him, except he’s been through a lot in his life, so I don’t hate him, except he’s 30 freakin years old so get over it all ready, so I hate him! Except God commands us not to poison ourselves with hatred, so I don’t hate him. So basically it’s a draw and can go either way, depending on how I feel when I randomly see him. And yesterday wasn’t his day, so I was rude. And I could’ve died that day, and that would’ve been that. I would’ve died that day being a person who holds grudges based on sheer principle, since I honestly don’t even care about what he did to me anymore.
But otherwise, I’d put in an honest day’s work for my employer, I’d spoken to both my mom and my dad throughout the day, I’d blogged about love, and my spirit was so light that I felt like singing and I did it. So, I’d say yesterday was a draw, too. It wouldn’t have been a terrible last day to have, but it also wouldn’t have been the most awesome last day ever, in my opinion. And that got me to thinking about what God would’ve thought of my last day.
Did I do everything He’d wanted me to do that day? Had I said everything He’d wanted me to? I’d apologized to the man on the train and I hoped that was enough, but was there something I missed?
Clearly, God thinks there was, which is why He let me live last night and wake-up and try again this morning. Though I nearly called out today to stay home and ponder the mysteries of life, I decided to actually try doing what God wanted me to do today. Because the truth is, any day could be our last day. It may not go exactly as we planned it — “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the will of God that will prevail” –but it should at least count for something. If I can start every day by thanking God for my life and then asking Him what He would have me do with that life and doing it, then I can truly rest in peace, knowing that in obedience to God, I’d made the best possible use of the time I was given. And though we may struggle knowing specifically what God wants us to do in each situation we face, we do know that the general requirement is that in everything we do, we do it with love:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” — 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If “God is love,” and we are “made in His image,” then that means that each of us are love too. That means no disrespectful jerks or punk kids or unfortunate circumstances can make us be anything else other than who we are, which is love. But, we can choose to be someone other than who God made us to be. Every day we wake up, we get to choose. We can choose to have compassion and pray for our would-be attackers and the situations that have caused them to seek to hurt others to gain what they need. John Brown once said, “”I have only a short time to live and only one death to die and I will spend it fighting for this cause.” What better way to spend the day than fighting to hold on to who we are in and because of Christ?
How Would You Want to Spend Your Last Day?