I just watched an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, Chicago Fire. Much to my shock, three of the shows primary characters died in a fire. Mouch, the oldest fire fighter on the show, had decided this would be his last fire, he was retiring. He told his wife last night and his best friend Hermann, a fellow fire fighter, just before going into the burning factory. Hermann had just gone out of his way to bless a little boy whom just a few days ago he had rescued from a burning car; he was still feeling on top of the world. Matt Casey, another fire fighter and one of the main two characters, was on the outs with his wife Gabby, a paramedic who was also on the scene of the fire. Then there was Cruz, who was angry with Mouch and who treated him shabbily a few hours before.
At the moment Hermann, Casey and Mouch entered the burning factory, only one of them was at peace in all his relationships. As the fire progressed too rapidly to be contained, Mouch had a heart attack and Hermann came back to rescue him, but was trapped, and both died. Meanwhile, Cruz had to be restrained from charging into the building to try to rescue Mouch, who he was so angry with before the fire. He screamed and cried his apologies to Mouch from outside, but Mouch was already dead. Casey’s wife Gabby watched in horror was the building started collapsing, and since they were both on the same radio system, he was able to say goodbye to her while she was begging him to put his oxygen mask back on (he could speak his last words more clearly to her without the mask…and death from smoke inhalation was a lot more merciful than burning to death).
What I was thinking back to in all this was a terrible traffic wreck I had witnessed when I was driving with my oldest daughter to a church family camp. She is almost 27 this year, but at the time she was just a little kid. She pointed out the wreck of the minivan, and I wanted to use it as a teachable moment (one of my habits, maybe not always appropriate). I said to her “I wonder what that family was saying to each other just before they died. Were they at peace with each other, or arguing?” It was too long ago to be sure of my actual words, but they were along those lines. I added “we should always be right with each other and with God, because look what can happen in an instant.”
Needless to say, I haven’t always obeyed my own admonition, but now that I am 70, and partly crippled from a stroke, and in constant pain from various places–I find it much easier to be at peace with people in my life. I know my time is much shorter than it was, and I look forward to seeing my Lord and receiving a body that won’t wear out. I wish I had this mindset years ago. It is never too late to be at peace with others, but the more we take our health and the years we have left for granted, the less likely we are to seek peace and to put our pride aside.
If you realize this is a good time for that, maybe my previous post can be helpful.