If I Die Tonight

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 5
The gospel had been faithfully preached by an evangelist in a large barn in the country. The people had gone home, and a farm hand was putting out the lights and closing up. The preacher returned for something he had forgotten. On finding it, he said to the young man, "Well, James, have you decided on whose side you are to be for eternity."
"I hope to go to heaven like other people," answered the man. Looking at his wife beside him, he added, "You see, we are young yet, sir, and have a long life before us, and plenty of time to think about these things."
The evangelist spoke faithfully to the man about the uncertainty of time, and the danger of putting off his personal salvation, but he did not succeed in awakening him. Finally he said, "Will you do me a favor tonight, James?"
"Anything you want, sir."
"Take a sheet of paper, and before you go to bed write on it these words: 'If I die tonight I shall be in hell,' and fasten it over your bed." James answered that he would, thinking little of the matter.
That night, before they went to bed, his wife reminded him of his promise.
"Bring me a pen and paper, and I will do it now," said James. When these had been brought he sat down by the table and wrote, "If I die tonight,"
Then he stopped, looked at it, and laid down the pen. It looked awfully solemn, more so than he had ever thought anything could be. He might die that very night; yes, before the morning's sun shone again, he might be in eternity. Where?
He took up the pen to finish the sentence—he had to face the truth—
"I shall be in hell!"
A tear fell on the last word and blurred it. It was from the eye of his wife, who was looking over his shoulder at the dreadful words. Sleep would not come, and at last they were brought to think of their souls' destinies.
James took down the Bible, seldom read, to see if any comfort or any relief could be found there. As the gray light of morning dawned, they were still eagerly searching God's Word. At last they came upon the blessed words in Isa. 43:2525I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. (Isaiah 43:25), "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions... and will not remember thy sins."
"This is what we want," said James. "This is what we are looking for!" That morning, as lost and hell-deserving sinners, they cast themselves on Jesus, the Savior, whose blood cleanseth from all sin. They were saved!
Taking up the pen, James crossed out the word "hell," and wrote above it, "heaven," and then triumphantly pinned it above his bed.
Have you found out which of the two eternal destinies will be yours? When all is over here, where will your immortal soul be? In heaven, or in hell?