On Sunday September 26, I was in bed with a thought running through my mind. “What would someone do who knew they had 24 hours left to live?”
The next night I got a phone call telling me that Travis Worden was in a terrible accident on his motorcycle. He was one of the students who used to come to Teen Quest. My friend told me that he was in a coma and was not expected to make it. Brittany and I prayed for him Monday night moments after I got the call. I got the word out to countless people through email to pray for him either that night or on Tuesday. We prayed for him again Monday night from 10:17 to 10:37. We got ready for bed, and prayed for him some more before falling asleep.
On Tuesday we went to work. No one had any concrete updates. We all waited. I received some replies to the email I sent. Our day rolled on like normal. I’m sure we prayed for him more on Tuesday. It may have been during the day. It may have been at night before we fell asleep again. I can’t remember.
On Wednesday September 29, I ended up sending out an urgent update to my original email around 12:30 PM. We were all getting ready for lunch when one of our ministry team members called Travis’ mom to see where things were. Travis had just suffered cardiac arrest. The doctors worked on him for a half hour before getting things under control. They wanted to start kidney dialysis because his brain injuries were so severe that his organs were trying to shut down. Brittany and I got together with a few other people at Teen Quest and prayed. We went home a few hours later. As we were getting ready to head to her parents’ house for dinner I got a text message from my friend at 5:33 PM with the news.
Travis Worden died this Wednesday, September 29. He was 18. It’s so strange to write that. I’m sure he was not thinking that his life would be ending this week. Who thinks that about themselves? Typically we go through life assuming we have years ahead of us. The younger we are the more likely we assume this sort of thing.
Thinking about him passing away has caused me to wonder what I’m doing with myself. I feel that God has been working in my life in some wonderful ways lately, but I want to know for sure that I am in the center of His will. If there is something else I should be doing, I am ready to know. It’s pretty easy for me to begin saying something like, “If God wants me to share the gospel with more people I’ll do it.” I could see myself saying, “If God wants me to spend more time in His Word I will.” But why am I prefacing those statements with the word “if”? God does want me to share the gospel with more people. God does want me to spend more time in His Word. It isn’t a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when” am I going to do it?
If today reminds me of one thing it reminds me that we have no idea how long we have to tell people about the gospel. Everywhere you look you have Christians who have moms and dads, brothers and sister, cousins, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, teachers and bosses. Everywhere you look you have Christians with best friends and Christians with acquaintances. Most of them are doing absolutely nothing to tell those closest to them that they have one decision to make that is more important than any choice they will ever face. If they are not sharing this desperate truth with those closest to them, you can bet they are struggling to share it with people they don’t know intimately.
As I was writing portions of these thoughts late Wednesday I put my computer aside for a minute to send a quick message to a friend. The message simply read, “I can’t believe he’s dead.” How many times have people said those words? I’m not asking how many times people have said those words about Travis Worden. I’m asking how many times people have said those words in general. In the course of human history I can imagine that those words have been blurted out more times than we can count in a life time. So many of us have said “I can’t believe ______ is dead.” We say that because we are so often thrown off by death. Whether it is sudden or not, we never seem prepared. The person who died could be 18 or 100 and it makes no difference. The sad truth is that we often say we can’t believe someone is dead because we wish we had one more chance to talk to them.
Life just seems to distract us from telling people about eternal life. As I write this I am tracking a storm on the weather radar moving along the majority of the East Coast. They’re saying it will pour a half an inch of rain on Pennsylvania in the next several hours. At any moment I can start researching new computers or phones. I could read the news or sit like a lump in front of my television. I can sleep in until 11:00 AM and I can spend the rest of the day laying around in a mindless stupor. Any of us can.
The devil doesn’t need to work very hard when Christians aren’t working very hard.
Who have I shared Christ with lately? Who have I held accountable lately? What stops me from telling a waitress or a pharmacist about the love of God? If I had 24 hours left to live would I spend it sharing the gospel with people like they only had 24 hours left to live? Why can’t I start sharing Christ with that fervor? After all, one day all of us really will only have 24 hours left to live.
Please keep the entire Worden family in your prayers. Please share this blog with anyone you know. Students need to hear it. Pastors need to hear it. Parents need to hear it. This could be a wake up call for all of us who think we have all the time in the world to tell our loved ones about Christ. It could be a wake up call for anyone who thinks they have plenty of time to come to Jesus.