One more chance...

Beauty berry green...

We knew our friend's suffering was nearly over when labored and shallow breathing greeted us at the door. For thirty bittersweet moments we said goodbye and grieved the tragic loss of a friend and the pain of those who've loved him long and well, yet we rejoiced that he'd soon be free of disease (and decades-old addictions) that had inflicted without mercy.

Only one week earlier - tethered to a respirator, IV's, tubes and catheters - he was in a moment-by-moment fight against the consequences of those addictions he'd been told were inevitable, and in waking from the drug-induced sedation, he flailed in battle against the demons that demanded what he was no longer able to give. We could only watch and pray and cry and hope. "Please give him one more chance," his family begged.
He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" ~ Ezekiel 33:3

Can a sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer - "O God, You know."

The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God's power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see?

If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God...then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace. 
~ Oswald Chambers (My utmost for His highest June 1)
And one more chance was graciously given - the gift of two full lucid and peaceful days - to breathe the outside air untethered and pet his dog, to eat McDonald's fries and drink mountain dew, and to admit, "I did this to myself." Two more days for "I'm sorry. I love you" and to repair what had been broken. Two more days to secure a place in eternity - the only thing that really matters in life and death moments like this.

As we drove back through the gate here on Pollywog Creek, three hours after those last goodbyes and "Go with God in peace" were whispered, we received the call that our friend had passed through the dark valley of suffering, bondage and death and into eternity with the God of Grace and Mercy and one more chance.

Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.

~ Psalm 116:15