She had always heard that life flashed before your eyes when you were dying. Was that why she was looking up at her grandmother who looked much younger? She could smell the flowers on her wedding day. She was holding her twins. She saw the spectacular view of the wild mustangs running the hills. Her son was laughing with her before he left for college.
It was as if all these moments were playing on rewind in front of her, but in slow motion. She could feel the moments vividly but was outside of them, like in a movie. “So this is it? Before you die, your greatest hits play out in your mind?” thought Samantha. “A nice touch I suppose. Though, I would prefer not to die just yet.”
It wasn’t as though Samantha was afraid of death. OK, maybe she was afraid. No one really looked forward to death, but she had faith in God and believed in Heaven. There could not be anything bad about going to Heaven. Well, expect the being dead part that is. She just wasn’t ready to go yet. She had some things left to do. Her first grandchild was on the way. A trip to Ireland was on the calendar. Her sister had planned a huge party. No. Death would not work. Not now. There was no time for it. Certainly, God could change this. Would change this. She had lived a good life. Nothing amazing that is for certain. She had not solved world hunger or created a cure for cancer, but she had been a good person. She raised two wonder children into loving, responsible adults. She donated her time at homeless shelters. Surely, she offered the world some value. Could there not be some exchange for some other person? Maybe one who did nothing but offer evil to the world. No one would miss them anyway. Right?
“Is that what you want?” said the sudden voice in Samantha’s thoughts.
In that second, she knew it as God. The voice was so deep, pure and commanding. She could still see glimpses of her life slowly flashing in the distance, but they were further away than before. They played off to the side of a glorious light that twinkled. It was the most magical light Samantha had ever seen. So bright, but yet, it did not hurt her eyes. So stunning she could not look away. Her “greatest hits” were still there, but no longer commanded her attention. All she could see, all she wanted to see, was the light. It was peaceful, comforting and warm.
“Is that what you want?” God asked again. “You suggest that I take another life instead of your own? One that has been full of evil and hate. One that has done nothing but take in life. Never offering light to the world.”
Samantha mentally kneeled before God as she couldn’t see her body or feel it, but she became aware that He was really there, talking to her. “Is that possible God? You would spare my life like that? I could live more? Be a good grandmother? Continue to serve you?”
“Yes, my child. I could do that for you. You have served me well. You have been a good example of my love.”
Tears rolled down her heart. This was love. She had imagined the light, heaven, God, but this was more. Way more. This was ultimate peace. She could feel the love, the hope, the possibilities. He was giving her a choice.
“Wait God. May I ask a question of you?”
“Of course my child,” He spoke.
“If I chose to live, does an evil soul really die in exchange for me?” whispered Samantha.
“Yes. It will be as you wished, your dying wish. Is that not what you want?”
“So they could no longer hurt others, no longer cause pain?” Samantha pressed on.
“This is true.”
“But, if I do this, they would also no longer have the chance to find you, to find hope?” she dared to question more.
“This is also true my child.”
“Oh. I didn’t realize it worked that way. Can I take a moment to think about it?”
“Certainly. It is your choice to make, and I control time, so you may have it.”
Her mind started to spin. God was giving her a choice to live again. To see her grandchild be born. To live more dreams. To share His love by living His word as her path. What a gracious God indeed. But, that came with a price. As she wished, some evil soul would die so she could live. They could no longer hurt others. But in that moment, she would take their chance of finding Him. She would steal their opportunity to change. But would they change anyway? Probably not. Maybe not….but they could.
“So I can come home with you now, and this evil soul will live? Maybe to hurt more or maybe to find you?” she asked in a whisper.
“Yes. All my children have a choice. It is their choice to make. For love cannot be taken. It must be given with a true heart,” He spoke.
“Oh God. I cannot take that from someone. No matter how evil they are, no matter how much I want to be there for my kids. They know you. I know You are in their hearts. So, I cannot take that opportunity from someone else, no matter how much I want it. If I did, I would not a true Christian. You sacrificed Yourself for us and so many of us have not been worthy. I am not worthy of this choice You have given me. Forgive me for even thinking of it. I have been selfish…and right here at your door,” Samantha said with shame on her heart.
“There is no reason for shame. I offered you this choice since you have been a loyal follower. You have lived with me in your heart and shared it. I heard your wish and thought to grant it, but it was for you to choose. Now that you have decided, I see you are indeed kind-hearted to the core. And even at death, you offer more to others, even those not yet deserving. Therefore, you will go home with me as you wish. But, for your wisdom and love, you will have your wish as well. Well, part of it. I will delay your trip home to me. For now, go be with your children, and help them lead their children to me as well. I will let the evil soul you spared with you choice live. They will know they were spared today, spared by someone of a genuine heart. It will still be up to them to choose, but they will know how close they came to the pits of Hell. You have given them a chance through your love, and more motivation with this knowledge. Go now. Celebrate the time you have left my child. Make memories. Share my word.”
With that, the light started to fade into the distance. The scenes of Samantha’s life came closer, played faster, and became a blur. She heard her kids crying. She could feel their hands on her arms. “Mom, don’t leave. We love you. Fight mom. Fight. We know you are still there. Tell God you are not ready. We are not ready. Please. Please. We need you.”
Weakly, she moved her arms and opened her eyes. Her kids looked into her eyes with hope in their hearts. “Mom! You’re awake! Oh, you scared us,” they cried.
Tears rolled down Samantha’s face. He was a gracious God indeed. She smiled at her kids. “God said I could stay a little longer. We have more memories to make, his love to share.”