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DOSTOEVSKY AND THE FIRING SQUAD

The famous Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky told the story of the time he was arrested by the czar and sentenced to die. The czar, though, liked to play cruel psychological tricks on the people who rebelled against him by blindfolding them and standing them in front of a firing squad. The blindfolded people would hear the gunshots go off, but would feel nothing. Then they would slowly realize that the guns were loaded with blanks.


Dostoevsky went through this experience himself. He said that going through the process of dying believing he was really going to die had a transforming effect on Dostoevsky. He talked about waking up that morning with full assurance that this would be his last day of life. He ate his last meal and savored every bite. Every breath of air he took was precious to him. Every face he saw, he studied with full intensity. Suddenly, every experienced was etched in his mind.


As they marched him into the courtyard, he felt the heat of the sun and appreciated its warmth like never before. Everything around him seemed to have a magical quality to it. He was seeing the world in a way he had never seen it before. He was fully alive!


When he realized that he had not been shot and that he was not going to die, everything about his life changed. He became thankful for everything about his life. He became grateful to people he had previously hated. It was this experience that convinced him to become a novelist and write about life in a way that before would have never been known to him.


You see, Christians ought to be fully alive like this. We’ve stared death in the face. If you are a believer in Christ, then you came to the understanding at some point in your life that your sin would lead you to eternal death. We all were doomed to die. But God sent his Son Jesus Christ to die in our place, and because of that we live.

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