I’m on a flight from Nashville to Charlotte, NC. Two guys in the seats across from me are discussing matters of life and death.
“You die when Jesus say you die, man. Life ‘n death is up ta the Lord. When he calls you, you gots to answer.”
“And when is that?”
“Can’t say; don’t know; don’t care. All I do know is that it ain’t in my hands, so I don’ worry ‘bout it.”
“But you do take precautions, like wearing a seatbelt.”
“Never have, never will. The only time I click one o’them suckers is when the cops are close. Look, it don’t matter what you do—seatbelts or no seatbelts—when God wants you dead, you dead.”
Their conversation ended abruptly as the flight attendant ordered the man to buckle his seatbelt for take–off.
I love listening to talk like this. While I certainly have my own positions on matters like these, I really enjoy hearing what other people believe. Most of the time I just listen. This time I butted in.
“So you must be some risk taker, then,” I said.
“Sorry, guys, I couldn’t help but overhear what you were saying about death. If your death is determined by God’s plan rather than your actions, it just stands to reason that you could do some wild stuff and not worry about it.”
“Like jumping off a cliff or out of a airplane without a parachute. Or drinking poison. Or playing Russian Roulette. You’d live through all of this unless God wanted you dead at that moment, in which case even if you were sitting at home watching TV you would suddenly drop dead of a heart attack or something.”
“That’s stupid. Drinking poison’ll kill you.”
“Not if it isn’t your time to die. That’s what you said, isn’t it? You won’t die until God wants you to die. That’s why you don’t where a seatbelt. If you get in a crash you won’t die unless it’s your time to die, and then, seatbelt or no, you would die. So you could do all kinds of reckless things knowing it doesn’t matter.”
“Listen, Bud, we weren’t talkin’ to you, an’ now you jus’ talkin’ stupid.”
I’m not quite sure that is what the man said to me because I was on a roll and wasn’t listening to him. I just took a breath and kept on talking.
“Of course not dying isn’t the worse thing that could happen to you. I mean, it might not be your time to die, but you could go through your windshield in a crash and live out the remainder of your life as a vegetable. But that’s your choice, not God’s, right? Or does God call us to be vegetables also? Maybe he does. Maybe he determines everything that happens to you, so wearing or not wearing your seatbelt isn’t your choice at all, but God’s.”
“Listin, man, God loves you, that’s all I know. An’ if God makes you a vegetable then that’s how he loves you. It ain’t for you ta tell God how to love, is it? All I’m sayin’ is that its all in God’s hands, and not for us ta worry ‘bout. So why don’ you just sit back and buckle your little safety belt an’ let God git on wit it.”
This was my cue to shut up. Too bad I didn’t catch it.
“But what if its God’s will for me to get you to change your way of thinking and start wearing your seatbelt? What if I’m like the Prophet Elijah sent by God to talk to you and here you are telling me to shut up. Would tell the Prophet Elijah to shut up?”
“Are you the Prophet Elijah?”
“No, I don’t think so,” I admitted.
“Then shut the f@ck up!”
He had a point. Next time someone asks me if I’m the Prophet Elijah I’ve got to remember to just say “yes.”