Seek out near-life experiences

Two Fridays ago wife Hanna and I were driving on U.S. Highway 56, returning to Hillsboro from dinner in Marion.

It was dusk, we were on the wide bend near the Canada/Hillsboro Cove intersection and a long string of headlights were coming at us from the other lane. That, and an untreated astigmatism in my left eye, prevented me from realizing that in my lane was an oncoming semi trying unsuccessfully to pass another semi.

By the time we met, I was partway on the shoulder, the semi was still partway in my lane and the driver still hadn?t cleared the other semi. I could literally feel the pressure inside my car change as that truck whizzed by within an arm?s reach.

We call these moments near-death experiences. They are moments when forces far outside of our control threaten our personal well-being. And, if we?re smart and mostly sane, we try to avoid them.

But later I realized there?s something more dangerous?something even more detrimental to living and health and fulfillment?that should be taken more seriously.

Near-life experiences.

A near-life experience is that moment when you feel a tug in your gut to say something or do something or give something, but you ignore it. It?s knowing the right thing to do, but lying to yourself. It?s when you have a brief opportunity to offer another person a taste of true life, but don?t.

Near-life experiences are the truly hazardous moments, and we should avoid them at all costs.

I have near-life experiences all the time. Last weekend, for example, I was placed in a prime spot to become a child sponsor for World Vision, an organization that provides nutrition and health care for children in Third World countries. It?s only $35 a month. I spend more than that on Diet Coke. And yet, somehow I managed to convince myself that the message wasn?t really for me.

The tallest obstacle in avoiding near life experiences?ourselves?is summarized in three C?s: we want to be comfortable, it?s easier to be complacent and the world expects us to conform.

Being an introvert, I?d be perfectly content to sit in my basement and communicate with the outside world through only email, text message and a biweekly newspaper column.

But how would that help me achieve my responsibility as a follower of Christ? When I felt the need to offer support and love to another person, how effective am I from a distance?

My guess is we all have moments when our hearts pull us in a certain direction. Even the most cynical, spiritually hardened or emotionally bruised among us. You don?t have to be a follower of Christ to recognize an opportunity to love someone else; a time to treat your neighbor as yourself.

It?s a sentiment secularized as The Golden Rule. But it?s bigger than catering to the law of moral reciprocity. In fact, it?s huge.

I?m no theologian?the biggest Bible research paper I wrote in college was about the meaning of Luke 6:38?s ?poured into your lap??but I do know that the greatest commandment speaks directly to this.

It?s not just about being kind so we deserve to have others be kind in return. It?s about sacrifice. It?s about offering what we have, be it support or words or supplies or wealth. It?s doing what Paul called our ?true and proper worship.?

If you haven?t accepted Christ, but have felt the tug to do something more?to share something that?s somehow beyond yourself?I?d invite you to seek more information. Email me or talk to a friend or walk into any church in this community.

And to those who have already vowed to pick up your cross, I feel convicted, and I?d like to offer the challenge to you as well. Let?s show compassion, be present, be open and be generous. Let?s stop having near- life experiences and actually have?and give?life.