Renowned evangelist Billy Graham has said that when God grants someone a second chance at living, it's to remind them of his love -- and of the brevity of life.
The founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association shared his thoughts in response to a question posed by a reader: "I just got out of the hospital after a bad car wreck," the reader said. "The police said they were surprised I wasn't killed. I've never given God much thought. Is God trying to tell me something?"
Graham said that God is indeed trying to tell the reader something - and would be foolish to ignore the message. He quoted Ezekiel 33:4: "If anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning ... their blood will be on their own head."
"What is God saying to you through this experience? First, He is reminding you of the brevity of life," the Baptist minister contended. "Yes, your life was spared, and for that I am very thankful. But what if it had not been spared? And in any case, some day you will die and enter God's presence, even if it's many years from now. Life is short, and the time to prepare for eternity is now."
Second, Graham said God "is also trying to tell you of His love for you."
"So far in life you have ignored Him - but He has not ignored you!" he said. "He loves you - and the proof isn't only that He spared your life on this occasion, but that His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life for you. He did this so you could be forgiven of your sins and go to be with Him in Heaven forever."
In an earlier "My Answers" column, Graham said second chances aren't granted "by accident".
"One reason was so that you would turn to Him and make Jesus Christ the foundation of your life," the evangelist told a reader who survived a devastating car accident. "Just as a building needs a solid foundation if it's to be stable, so we need a solid foundation on which to build our lives. By faith turn to Jesus Christ and make Him the foundation of your life."
God also saves His people because He wants to use them for His glory in the future: "God loves you; the proof isn't only that He spared you, but that Jesus Christ died for you," Graham said.
God doesn't give second chances by accident, so don't waste your life, but put yourself into Christ's hands and seek God's will for your future, Graham advised.
"The Bible says, 'And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again' (2 Corinthians 5:15)," he concluded.
Earlier, Graham said that far too often, when people have a near-death experience, they simply go on living the same way they always have.
"God spared you for a purpose, and the most important thing you can do is to seek that purpose and dedicate your life to it," he said. "You aren't here by chance, nor are you here just to live for yourself without any thought of God. God made you, and life's greatest joy comes from knowing Him and living for Him every day."