One Life to Live

by Dale Sanger

One Life to LiveIn every 24-hour period, we are given 86,400 seconds to try to fulfill our plans and dreams for that particular day. Each one of us has the exact same amount of time—no more or less. I find it interesting that we often complain about being busy when we are the ones who waste time. We develop habits of investing our time in the wrong places. If our time were divided into accounts (as our money), then we could probably examine our lives and realize that our “time with God” account has been running into overdraft for quite a while. What about our “time with family” account? How is the balance there?

We all say it: “Tomorrow I will make things better.”  But what if there is no tomorrow to make things right? Let me take you back a few years. It was March 8, 1999, a fairly normal day in my household. It was getting late. My wife and I were in our living room while our children were asleep in their beds, all except our four-month-old son, Dawson. He was sitting on my lap, laughing. I remember thinking that I don’t get enough time with my kids. After coming home from work, I’m tired and just want to relax.

Just before midnight, my wife and I retired to bed after putting Dawson down to sleep for the evening. I am sure that most parents of four-month-olds can remember those sleepless nights well. Lack of sleep seemed as though it was the only constant in our lives. On most nights, we were startled awake by our infant at least twice—he needed us to feed him, change his diaper or simply hold him close. That night was different. My wife and I slept all the way through. When my alarm went off at 6:00 the next morning, I got out of bed to get ready for another busy day at work. I washed, dressed, and just before rushing off to work for the day, I went into my children’s bedrooms to check on them.

My daughters (Eden and Emily) were first, and as usual, they had kicked off their blankets. I covered them up and bent down to kiss each one of them. They stirred slightly. I went to Dawson’s room next. I stopped to adjust his blankets, and strangely he didn’t move. Dawson was a light sleeper. I bent closer to kiss him, and to my horror he was not breathing. As I pulled his limp, lifeless body from his cradle, I screamed for my wife. I then frantically started to perform artificial respiration while my wife dialed 911.

There have only been a couple of times in my life when time seemed to stand still. It happened twice on that same morning. Time stood still as I waited for the ambulance to arrive. Suddenly, the lights filled our quiet residential street and the sirens screamed, leaving echoes inside my head. But nothing was fully registering in my mind. I was told it only took a couple of minutes, but those were precious seconds that wasted away forever. The emergency workers came into the house and took over the artificial respiration. Dawson was put into the back of the ambulance. The doors closed with me inside.

“Even now I still get busy and sometimes forget where my priorities should be, but I need to decide every day that I will spend my 86,400 seconds on what God wants. Turn your hearts to Him; let Him direct you, and you will never regret it.”

When we arrived at the hospital, the doctors took Dawson into another room while I waited. This was the second time that day when time seemed to stand still—waiting, more precious seconds ticking away, praying, crying. Then an eternity later the door opened. I remember watching television shows in which the doctors tell the family the bad news, but my experience was totally different from anything I ever saw on TV. This time it was happening to me! No longer could I stay detached from the situation. This “show” was my life, and my family were cruelly cast as the main characters. The doctor spoke with tears running out of her eyes and down her cheeks. I wish I could remember her name to thank her for her sensitivity, but it hadn’t registered at that time. Softly she said, “I’m so sorry,” as the clock ticked in the background. “We’ve tried everything, but couldn’t get him back.”

At that precise moment, I felt as if somebody had punched me as hard as he could, taking all my breath away. Today I still wish I had had more time with Dawson. I regret that the time I had wasn’t spent more wisely. The writer of Psalm 103 says this: “As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”

We all have limited time even if we think we are indestructible. My family and I survived the death of Dawson only because of God’s grace and compassion for us. Sure, there were times when we were angry with God and wondered why this would happen to us. Many times, the Scripture came to mind where Jesus says: “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV).

Even now I still get busy and sometimes forget where my priorities should be, but I need to decide every day that I will spend my 86,400 seconds on what God wants. Turn your hearts to Him; let Him direct you, and you will never regret it.

ReadAt the time of writing “One Life to Live”, Dale Sanger was the senior pastor of Marmora Pentecostal Church in Marmora, Ont. This article appeared in the December 2004 issue of testimony, a monthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2004 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © istockphoto.com.

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