I remember not being particularly good at taking instructions when I was younger. Or maybe I just didn’t listen to all the instructions. I think it could have been that I only heard what I wanted to hear then I would stop listening. Then one day I learned a lesson about listening.
My brother, Alvin, had gotten his car stuck in the back yard at Daddy’s house in Big Dixie, Arkansas. I was probably ten or eleven years old at the time. Well, we were there alone, and he asked me to get in the driver’s seat and hit the gas while the car was in reverse so he could push the car out. Doesn’t seem too hard, does it?
I heard him say, “Put the car in reverse and hit the gas while I push…” then I must have stopped listening. I heard the first part and boy did I ever hit the gas! I hit the gas so hard that the car went flying backwards through the yard, across the highway, and landed in the ditch across the road!
“Brake! BRAKE!” I heard Alvin screaming with his hands flailing in the air. See, the thing is, I don’t remember if he told me to hit the brake or not. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he assumed I would know to hit the brake. I had been driving cars since I was around seven years old, so I should have known to hit the brake. But I didn’t hit the brake soon enough.
I am so lucky that a car wasn’t coming. After the car stopped and I realized I was alright, I was shaken up. Alvin was shaken up. Possibly a little mad. Luckily for me, I was his baby sister, and it was impossible for him to stay mad at me for too long!
I think he was more relieved than anything else. He and I both realized that I could have been killed or I could have killed someone else. Or both. The Lord was watching over me. I have no doubt in my mind.
Learning Spiritual Lessons
It took me until I was in my thirties to understand this, but I believe the situation with my brother was a lesson learned that can be applied in my adult life. More specifically, there is a lesson there that can be carried over into my spiritual life.
Yes, I should have listened to all Alvin had to say before I got behind that wheel. That was important. Today, though, how much more important is it to listen to all God has to say?
The car situation could have had deadly earthly impacts. Yes. But the situations we find ourselves in as adults can have eternal impacts. Let’s look at that again. The situations we allow ourselves to be in can and will have eternal impacts.
If I had died or killed someone else, it would have been a travesty. Something that Alvin would have had to live with for the rest of his life. How much more of a travesty will it be in the end for those who refuse to listen to and obey God’s commands?
Those who refuse to listen to and obey God will end up in sin and sin leads to eternal death.
Jesus is clear in Matthew 18:7-9 when He speaks on what happens to those who sin.
“Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”
Woe (suffering) unto the world because of sin. Woe unto the man who leads others to sin. He is not asking us to literally cut our body parts off. He is telling us to remove ourselves from those things that would cause us to sin. How much better is it to get to Heaven and live there for an eternity than enjoy sin while on Earth for a short time?
I can be obedient to Christ and live for an eternity with God and with all the redeemed of all the ages OR I can refuse to obey and live in torment for an eternity. There shouldn’t even be a choice to make.
It is vital that I listen to and obey all the instructions that God has given me to ensure I am not stuck living an ungodly life. To ensure I am not lost to sin and lost in eternity.
Our Memories Will Follow Us
Alvin living with the guilt of me dying would have been a hard pill for him to swallow. I can’t even imagine how he would have dealt with that. Thankfully, he didn’t have to.
Memories can cause great happiness but sometimes great pain. Have you ever thought about how you will have to deal with the memories of the things you do and/or don’t do while on this earth in the end?
It is certain that our memories will follow us. Those who refuse to obey God will remember every opportunity they had. They will remember how they could have changed their lives but didn’t. They will remember friends and family members who tried to lead them down a godly road. They will remember their stubborn refusals. The last opportunity they had to obey Christ but didn’t will burn in their minds on a never ending loop.
We have an example of how our memories follow us with the account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19. The rich man remembered his life even after he went to torment.
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”
I can’t imagine the pain those memories must have caused him. Not only the torment but knowing he could have changed things while he had the opportunity on earth but chose not to. He could have decided to obey God, but he did not.
Landing in the Ditch
I was fortunate that I landed safely in the ditch across the highway. Even though I didn’t plan on landing there, I am so very thankful that there was a ditch there for me to land in.
Where are you planning on landing when your life is over? I can’t imagine that anyone plans on landing in Hell Fire. But the question is, are you taking action to make sure you DO NOT land in Hell Fire and you DO land in Heaven?
Are you seeking out God’s will by reading and studying the Bible? Are you doing everything in your power to know what God requires to get to Heaven?
Think about it. Ask yourself those questions and then, if needed, take action to rectify your life. Put God first. Put Heaven in your sights. Make sure you land there by taking the required steps to start your journey to Heaven.
Steps of Salvation
Your first step must be to hear the gospel. (Romans 10:17, John 8:32)
After you hear it then you have to determine if you believe it. Do you believe that God has put forth commandments that tell you what you must do to get to Heaven? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? (Hebrews 11:6, John 20:31)
Once we truly believe, next comes repentance. Yes, we are required to repent of past sins (Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30)
After repentance, we must confess our faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:10, Matthew 10:32) and put Christ on in baptism (Galatians 3:27, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38).
You will rise up out of the water a new creature in Christ! You will have a desire to be and must be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).
Please, please, please don’t let your memories haunt you throughout eternity. Make memories that are precious. Memories that you can carry with you here and in Heaven.
If you are in need of obeying the gospel, I implore you to do so. Do it before it is too late. If you are an erring Christian, then come home. Don’t let sin and this world cause you to lose your soul.
Reach out to me and I will get you the help you need. I am here for you. I care about your soul more than you know. Yes, even if we have never met.
As always, I am happy to study with anyone, day or night.
In Christian Love,
In memory of Alvin Elton Castleberry. I can’t express how thankful I am to have been blessed with my brother, Alvin. His life was cut short when he was just 24 years old. So, yes, every memory I have of him is precious. I carry them with me always.