Here’s an arresting sight. Rows of white chairs, set out on a vacant lot in the middle of a city – swivel chairs, dining chairs, armchairs, picnic chairs, classroom chairs. If you were to count them, you would find there are 185. What are they doing there?
These chairs are a touching memorial to those who perished in the earthquake that struck the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, on February 22, 2011. There is a chair for each one who died. Among the dead were office workers, shoppers, children, students, tourists – all going about their normal activities.
Many visit the memorial each day; they survey the scene silently, soberly – and turn away. For there is nothing to say in the face of such finality. The chairs are all empty, and they will never be filled again.
The solemn reality is that each one of the 185 people represented by the empty chairs in Christchurch has a soul which now occupies one of two places in eternity. It’s a reminder that for each of us there will come a time when our particular ‘chair’ on earth will be vacated. Like those who died that day, each of us has a soul that will live forever, either in Heaven with the Saviour, or in Hell. Like them, we may get no warning – so we need to prepare now.
Each chair is individual. Similarly, each of us is individually responsible before God – and each requires God’s forgiveness for the Bible says, “…all have sinned” (Romans 3:23).
As you see in the picture, the chairs are all white. I may look like a good person to others – ‘painted white’ as it were. But the Lord looks on the heart and, without exception, He sees sin. Sin that needs to be dealt with before it brings eternal ruin.
In His indescribable love, God gave His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus, to die on the cross so that He may be the Saviour of each one who believes in Him. Although “the wages of sin is death,” the great news is that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Once we have received the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, we can look forward to something that will take place even more suddenly than an earthquake. The Bible teaches that the Lord will come for His own “in a moment” (1 Corinthians 15:52). For those of us who have trusted Him, we’ll be thrilled to leave our earthly chair vacant and fill a place in the glories of Heaven. (Read John 14:3, 6.) Will you be ready for that moment?
L. M. Thompson
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