Fifty-Seven Seconds Remaining

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What if you had only fifty-seven seconds of life remaining? What if you could see the timer ticking away, counting down the moments of your life? Would you reach towards your wife and hold her tight? Would you pick up your daughter and tell her your final words? Would you run from the inevitable end of zeros and screams?

Fifty-seven seconds was all I had left, standing on the edge of oblivion I had to choose would I live while another perished? Or would I let those moments tick away until there was nothing but a body left behind? Two men gave in to the terror and cast themselves into the flames of fear, but my feet remained rooted to the ground. Shaking, I stood, unable to hold back the dread. In no time at all, I was weeping, unable to contain my doubts and shame. It reverberated through my bones as I knew the judgment was to come.

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The pangs of survivors’ guilt creep back up my spine, reminding me I didn’t die that day, but they did. Two men, in particular willingly perished so I could live. They ripped me away from the dread and threw me into freedom instead. I am unable to escape their merciful act. It comes to remind me every crisp November morning when I see the scars on my body where blades and bullets punctured and pulverized tissue and bone.

The first man saved my life by letting me steal his own. He allowed me to win during a fight to the Death. I was full of a vengeance laced fire when I faced him. He was a rock of calm as I unleashed my chaos and fought to avenge the innocence which had been stolen by monsters masquerading as men. Admittedly, I was convinced the soldier who once stood before me was the embodiment of evil. Cowardly commanders had decided the face of death would soon be his to wear into the flames of another crematorium.

I was embittered and so angry at what they’d done to the people I loved. I was convinced my rage could snuff out their filthy flames. For years I took their torment and channeled it into the end of steel and a silent syringe. I watched men die while sleeping soundly next to their wives. I took them violently when they resisted, but in all my thieving, I soon learned you couldn’t steal what was freely given.

The soldier standing in front of me that day refused to let me steal the gift of life he’d been given. Unlike so many others before him, he did not fight me with his hatred, rage, or fury, but instead, he murdered my madness with mercy, forgiveness, and peace. He cut me with a double-edged dagger that went into my heart and exposed its suffering to the light of love. He banished my fury with a faith I never saw in the Sunday school classes I attended. He gave me kindness instead of cowardice, and here I am, decades later, still hearing the sound of his beating heart quieting itself to silence.

I can’t escape what he did that day. His sacrifice consumed my fury, and left me weakened, never to return its rage. The carefully prepared plans of mind-controlled men were thrown into the sea of someone else’s nightmare. The soldier’s sacrifice gave me a minute to choose a minute to pause and decide whether I would live or die.

In the depths of my despair, this man had sown a seed of sacrifice which could never be plucked up, passed over, or forgotten. He gave me life while I went on raging in my quest for Death. He gave me hope when I was facing down warring factions of Families who guard covenants for perverts and priests. I chose to turn against the beasts who fed me their folly when I was not yet thirty years old. I gave them the same gift that the soldier had given me, and I offered them another chance to choose what they would do with the moments, months, or years remaining. I gave them a chance to escape the inevitable timer ticking away the final seconds of their freedom.

They chose the cowards clock while I was made to force the timers’ hands by stealing away my future. I placed the pommel in my palm, and just like Saul on Mount Gilboa, I ran myself through with steel until the blood flowed freely. The bullet soon blew away my thigh and left me limping like Jacob on his way to face his brother Esau’s justifiable rage. Fifty-seven seconds began to tick away as I felt my strength fade. I stepped into the cold mountain air that November morning twelve years ago waiting for the Reaper to come and his laughable revenge.

Even there on the side of that cursed mountain, another soldier intervened. He had seen these moments of mine long ago and knew the only way to save a life was through His sacrifice. He saw the many men who would face the Reaper, the women who would face the fires of fury, bowls, bitterness, and other men’s greed-laced lusts. He chose to be born in affliction. He decided to embody the suffering we all would come to understand by weaving himself a tapestry of torment. He made himself a life of loss, so that no matter our level of pain, affliction, or failure, He could carry across the chasm of chaos.

He let other soldiers with braided whips tear him to pieces, all the while knowing so many have felt the sting of someone else’s scorn. He suffered the rejection of his mother, his brothers, family, and friends. He knew what if felt like to be abandoned, passed over, and forsaken. He became intimate with all we have come to regret about this cruel world. He tasted the bitterness that bleached the beauty and turned decades of love into unstoppable apathy. He faced the fury of the very people He came to rescue, and yet He chose to live and lose for them all.

The loss of his life on the Timber doomed the world and would have left us all full of fickle failures and the inevitable destruction. Those who loved him most screamed and grieved for their hope had died with Him. Who could escape those three days and nights of sorrow? Who could run from this horrid reality? No master magician, supreme sorcerer, or wealthy king had defeated Death’s permanent sting. But yet three days still came, and there stood the Soldier, with the Keys of Death in His pierced palms. He rent them from the Reaper and took back what was rightfully His. He alone could conquer the coward’s curse and make monsters into men of meaning, purpose, and passion.

While my blood spilled out of my body, the Reaper came to call me to fill the coffers of his cursed collection. But then came The Captain of Hope, the rescuer of the murderers, liars, and thieves. He who is worthy to be seated above all the gods of old and heavenly hosts came down and rescued an 18-year-old soldier who was bleeding to death on a concrete slab seven thousand feet above the oceans roar. With an unshakable strength, he commanded the Reaper away and ransomed my life with His own. He redeemed me when I was at my weakest, my worst and most ashamed. He chose to rescue me from my madness by giving me the wisdom to save my life and stop the bleeding.

If 57 seconds were all that stood between you and the great void, do you have confidence that The Soldier will be there to carry you across Deaths chasm? Can you rest today knowing you’ve fulfilled your purpose? Have you seized the passing moments with your wife and loved her well? Have you cherished your children and prepared them for wars of wounded wolves, corrupt corporations, and liar’s lips? Have you been bold enough to share your hope with the hurting? Have you fed the hungry your attention, your comfort, and a warm meal? Have you leveraged your resources, reputation, and retirement blanket to clothe the divorced widow or abandoned orphan? Or did you give your wealth to some corporate franchise church where they squandered it on buildings, branding, and marketing their denomination instead of deliverance?

The timer on your life is ticking away. Too many people woke up this morning, not realizing they would never see their son again. They would never have a chance to ask him to forgive them for failing to protect them from the bullies at school who indoctrinated him with lies and grade points earned for studying perverse truth. Men woke up every day, not knowing it was their time to die, but I did. I woke up with their number on my List, and their life was soon measured in seconds, not seasons. I hunted down their final moments, and with a final twist of my wrist, I quieted their clock. Some of them were the embodiment of evil, caught in the act of infidelity. I made sure the next child they met was not another notch in their belt. But unfortunately, some of those clocks I crushed were not monsters, but a stumbling block to a corporate contract and military budget review.

Dozens and now hundreds of men and women died while you were reading this for nothing but a race to collect imaginary ones and zeros on their way to a job they hated, leaving behind the family they once loved. They will be forgotten just like the children who were murdered by school nurses and oath keeping doctors who raped them with syringes of foreign DNA and mutilated viruses. Those children will not get a day where the nation mourns for their shattered minds and ravaged bodies. Their parents will be left with ruin for listening to superbly funded and immaculately dressed liars.

If there are only 57 seconds left on your clock, you’ve already waited far too long. Today can be the day you restore your marriage, reconcile with your children, and leave the seductive systems of man. You can flee the fear of failure and find courage is a currency that only grows when you give it away. Freely I was given more time on my clock, so freely I give to all I can. Take from my life the lessons you need, the courage you’re running out of, and let them fuel the furnaces of your hope. I am a dead man walking, and so are you. But the Author of Life has freely extended to you His eternal inheritance of peace.

So go and be the strange and peculiar person you were made to be. Cast off the weighty accusations those cowards levy on you and weigh yourself down with devotion to a greater weight of glory. You were made for this time, this one moment, perhaps by His generosity, you will be given another, maybe even many more to come. But don’t count yourself greedy for the gains this world would offer you. But instead, count yourself greedy to give away all you have for the sake of the oppressed orphans, those suffering sons, and daughters living all around you. Give them the courage they need to press on no matter the pain in pasts or the scars on their resumes and report cards. Give the young ones your attention instead of the black mirrors you where endlessly gaze. Stand up for the weak when their legs give out from student loans and lost homes. Be the man who sacrifices his fortune, for a marvelous pearl he has uncovered.

Be the woman who stretches out her faith-filled hand towards the tzitzits of deliverance gracing her Redeemers robe. Be the child who has mercy on their parents and forgives them for letting liars raise them, and doctors rape their health and poison their futures. Be merciful with those who doubt. Love them enough to give them your precious moments when they mock you, for by doing so, you will steal away their accusations and resurrect the courage they once had to stand for what they believe in. My brothers, you wounded wolves who still hunt the horrors of your past, remember this. You can’t kill the Reaper, nor can you shed enough blood to make right the wrongs of yesterday. Learn to hunt for hope instead of hating the joy a good life can provide. A man’s life is more than any Monday morning slavery can provide. A woman’s life is not going to be fulfilled by abandoning her children and divorcing her destiny for the sake of another meaningless career. Live abundantly with the ones you love and fight for their freedom by sacrificing your idol dreams and deadly doubts. Then and only then, when your final fifty-seven seconds tick away, you will come to share in that eternal peace and welcome the end with great relief.

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