EULESS?Using country music singer Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dyin'” as a setup for his testimony and 2 Timothy 1 as the text for his sermon, Sammy Gilbreath pleaded with those attending the SBTC’s Empower Evangelism Conference to live with eternity in mind.
Gilbreath had a blood clot and rare aneurism in his left ventricle that his physicians, including those at the Mayo Clinic, said would kill him quickly. Instead, he has defied
the odds, but knowing that each day is a blessing that might be his last.
With funeral arrangements already in place, Gilbreath has continued to serve in his role as evangelism director for Alabama Baptists.
“I hope you get a chance to live like you were dying,” Gilbreath told the crowd. “It is my prayer this afternoon that the Holy Spirit of God will empower you to learn to live like you are dying.”
“If you are going to live like you are dying, the very first thing you must learn is the value of the promise of life,” he said.
Gilbreath said he has learned to replace the words “got to” in his vocabulary with
“Before this happened I would have said, ‘I’ve got to go to Texas tomorrow.’ No, you get to go to Texas tomorrow. ‘I’ve got to go to that deacon’s meeting.’ No, you get to go to that deacon’s meeting. ‘I’ve got to go to work in the morning.’ You get to go to work in the morning. ‘I’ve got to make that visit to the nursing home.’ No, you get to go visit the nursing home.”
In the routine of life, Gilbreath said to seize opportunities to minister to people, because the way believers’ respond “may determine where [others] spend eternity.”
“If this coming Sunday is the last Sunday that you will serve Yahweh God and his beloved son, the sermon that’s spinning around in your mind, how would you change it if Sunday’s the last Sunday you will ever preach?”
Also, Gilbreath said Christians must learn that spiritual blessings are more important than physical things.
He was blessed to live long enough to marry his son and daughter-in-law, even though doctors warned him not to travel to the wedding across two states. He even thanked God for the blessing of being able to rake leaves?something he hated as a kid.
Worried that his family would need him after he died, he said he cried out to God.
“And in that prayer time God said ‘grace is never given in advance. Grace is always given at the point of need.’ So sweetly, he said when they need the grace there will be more than enough. And then almost as a reminder he said, ‘Oh, by the way, I can take care of them better than you can.’ I don’t worry about them any more.”
To live like one is dying, he must live with a clear conscience, Gilbreath added.
“You may decide after this conference that you are going to change some of your behavior, some of your study habits, some of your personal time with the Lord. That’s admirable but that’s not a clear conscience. Only God grants a clear conscience, following repentance.”
Finally, “If you are going to live like you are dying, you are going to have to learn the value of remembering.”
Noting Paul’s remembrance of the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother in 1 Timothy 1:5, Gilbreath asked: “Who led you to the Lord? Who stood by you when no one else knew you were struggling?”
If that person died, what would you spend the rest of your life wishing you had told them? he asked.
“I wish mentally you could just come and get on that stainless steel cardiology table with me, your feet dangling off, your family sitting right there with you. The cardiologist calls you by name and looks at your family and says ‘you’re going to die, and you’re going to die very, very quickly.’ What is it that you need to do this afternoon in this session for that to be all right? It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit of God will empower you to learn to live like you’re dying.”