There is one case of death-bed repentance recorded, that of the penitent thief, that none should despair; and only one, that none should presume.   



Presuming we can deal with Jesus some other day is something that we do.  Admit it or not—we have done it. 

And we still presume that Jesus can wait. 

Jesus comes and presents us with himself—plain and simple—in his majesty and splendor.  He can be dramatic, but more often than not he’s almost subtle about it.  Unlike us, he’s not  pushy or overbearing.  While we can be sure he is strong—he is gentle in his approach.  And he doesn’t make us come—although, he does have his ways to help make us willing.  It’s a rather stark contrast between Jesus and our other choices you know.  I will confess that I deal with this daily—so if you were looking for company—you have it.  If you were looking for good company—don’t push it. 

You see, Jesus always calls us to follow him today rather than putting him off until a rainy day.  I think we presume that following Jesus means joining the local convent or taking an oath of celibacy—and I suppose it could.  But I think often times we make following Jesus—not easier—but much more complicated than it actually is.

Buechner writes in Beyond Words,

For the best to happen, the worst must stop happening—the worst we are, the worst we do.  But maybe it isn’t as difficult as it sounds.  It was a hardened criminal within minutes of death, after all, who said only, ‘Jesus, remember me,’ and that turned out to be enough.  ‘This day you will be with me in paradise’ was the answer he just managed to hear.

The unrepentant thief missed Jesus entirely while the believing one realized the urgency in today—he knew he couldn’t presume he had tomorrow. 

 4  Show me, O LORD, my life’s end
       and the number of my days;
       let me know how fleeting is my life.                              (Psalm 39:4, ESV)

Teach us Lord—to presume not that our days are not somehow numbered.