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“It Could Have Been Me!”

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A friend once came to Rabbi Harold Kushner, the author of the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, and said to him:

“Two weeks ago, for the first time in my life I went to the funeral of a man my own age. I didn’t know him well, but we worked together, talked to each other from time to time, had kids about the same age. He died suddenly over the weekend. A bunch of us went to the funeral, each of us thinking, “It could just as easily have been me.

“That was two weeks ago. They have already replaced him at the office. I hear his wife is moving out of state to live with her parents. Two weeks ago he was working fifty feet away from me, and now it’s as if he never existed.

“It’s like a rock falling into a pool of water. For a few seconds, it makes ripples in the water, and then the water is the same as it was before, but the rock isn’t there anymore.

“Rabbi, I’ve hardly slept at all since then. I can’t stop thinking that it could happen to me, that one day it will happen to me, and a few days later I will be forgotten as if I had never lived. Shouldn’t a man’s life be more than that?”

This man had just experienced a wakeup call! For all of us, there are times like that when we are brought up short, and we are left thinking disturbing questions like, “Shouldn’t a man’s life be more than that?”

I think we get that kind of feeling when we contrast the reality of our lives against Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes. Sometimes we want to pass by them quickly. We assume that Jesus was simply a Nazarene stumbling along the dusty roads of Palestine mumbling so many platitudes.

But there is that haunting feeling in our gut that Jesus may be right and we just might be wrong. And that’s when we need to stop and take another long look at the Beatitudes.

Thanks to Rabbi Harold Kushner and Mickey Anders.

Consider a recent “Wakeup Call” in YOUR life.


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