Last night's devotional was written by WCS junior, Jenny Ngo. Tonight's entry is about Kim Ngo, Jenny's equally wonderful older sister, and our salutatorian her senior year! (I have to confess I gave Kim the only detention she ever received at WCS when her cell phone went off in class.) The following is about a note Kim wrote on her test, from 11-30-06.
We had a test yesterday in my Life of Christ Bible classes. As I always do, I encouraged the students to put in writing a prayer request or a note to their favorite teacher, if so inclined, at the bottom of the exam. A high percentage of girls do: Kim was one of them yesterday. In her first year at Westbury Christian School, Kim is from Vietnam and a superior student. She also is blessed with a sharp sense of humor and the confidence to display it. In her note, she mentioned a quote she came across which she believed to be excellent and she shared it with me:
Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die.
I had heard it before. I googled it to find its origin but came up empty. Today, using the quote as the context, I asked my students how many would be willing to die immediately if they knew they would go straight to heaven. What I found was that most of the young people who spend an hour per day with me would not. The prevailing thought is that they are too young with too much to accomplish to walk away from their existence on earth, even if it risked giving up a certain eternal reward. One girl said she would not because her younger brothers needed her too much; I thought that made sense. But most, like people my age, aren't ready to die. Even when I mentioned that heaven would be everlasting bliss with absence of sorrow as well as being in the presence of the Lord, most stood their ground. This afternoon, I may have scratched a little deeper into teenage logic that explains their stance on the issue.
In sixth period, I teach a bright group of eighth graders. Their assignment today was to compose a paragraph describing themselves at seventy-five years of age. Invariably, these nearly-new teens saw themselves enjoying old age tremendously as they reached the life expectancy standard. Most look forward to their advanced years which they perceive will be lovingly spent with spouses, children, and grandchildren. And that's why I think the majority would choose to stay on terra firma rather than relocate to the heavenly realms: the next sixty-plus years are too good to pass up! Kids are infinitely more optimistic than their elders, not having the burden of experienced heartache and tragedy to crush their expectations for a brighter tomorrow. That's a double-edged sword. By believing life will be good to them, they maintain a healthy outlook on the course their lives can follow. Conversely, it is easy to get wrapped up in the temporary existence of the here and now. Paul, when confronting this identical question, saw both sides of the coin. In his letter to the Philippians, he wrestled with his place in the spiritual scheme of things. On one hand, he would be far better off in heaven with the Lord. The flip side was that the brothers and sisters there in Philippi needed Paul. His departure for the afterlife would be put on hold. I am convinced the rest of us don't have the insight the apostle had regarding the timing of his death but his eternity was temporarily suspended for the common good. I hope that's why I am still alive. Maybe I just have unfinished business in Houston, Texas.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death."
James F. Bymes
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org