I had someone close to me who was arrested not long ago. This person's vehicle had broken down and he was along the side of the road when a police officer stopped to help. The officer did a routine check on this person's license and found that he had an outstanding traffic violation about which he had forgotten — a ticket he had intended to pay, but had put away, misplaced, and forgotten. A notice of a court date was sent, but he misplaced the letter, and forgot once again. The officer gave him an opportunity to call someone and tell them of the situation, so he chose to call me.

This all happened on a Friday, and the police told me it would be a simple thing to deal with. It wasn't. The legal system couldn't get this person before the judge that day, and since it was a Friday, the courts were closed the next two days. This person ended up spending three days locked up because he forgot something — something that he considered "not that important" at the time.

I was reading Scripture and ran across the story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Do you remember what happened? The poor beggar, Lazarus, lay outside of the door of the rich man's house every day begging for scraps of food. The rich man ignored him. They both died, with the rich man going to "a place of torment" and the beggar going to "a place of paradise." The rich man now becomes the beggar — begging "father Abraham" to give him some relief. Abraham says that this is not possible, so the rich man asks Abraham to send the beggar, Lazarus, back to warn his family. Father Abraham basically replied, "No, they have to realize what is important for themselves. They have the Scriptures and the teachers and the preachers; they need to listen to those God has already sent to them."

When I read this, I realized that the rich man was not so different from my close friend. The rich man forgot what was important — serving God and those who are in need! He may have had very good intentions, but just never got around to making God and needy people a priority in his life. Then, when he least expected it, he was "incarcerated" in that place of torment. Basically, when he realized there was no hope of parole, no early release, that his was a life sentence, he begged for one phone call (figuratively) to warn his five brothers; but it was not allowed.

Let me ask you, have you forgotten what is really important? If you were in the rich man's place, who would you call? Who would you want to avoid making the same mistakes you made?

We had better do it now!
Let me suggest that just like the rich man, we only get one chance at life! Unlike the erroneous message of some television programs, once you are dead, all connection with this earth is ended. There are no second chances to make things right or to help your loved ones to change their lives. The Bible tells us, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27 NASB).

So if we need to help someone in need, or need to change our life's priorities, or if we need to help someone else change theirs, we had better do it now, while we have the opportunity.

My prayer is that we will all awaken to the reality of NOW, because it's all we have!