Standing on the Edge of Eternity:
The Tom and Donna Wimer Story

Tom & Donna WimerTom and Donna Wimer had been fighting summer prairie fires together in Rosebud County, Montana, since they were married over fifty years ago. Whether the fire was on their TW Quarter Circle Ranch or on a neighbor's place, they were there. It was just part of the local definition of "neighboring." The summer had been another dry one with no measurable rain for over two months, and fires were common.

Tom and Donna were driving home from church that first Sunday in September, 1996, when they spotted a fire on the neighbor's place across Armell's Creek from their ranch. They hurried home and jumped into the four-wheel drive pickup they had outfitted with a 200-gallon water tank and pumper, not even changing their church clothes. The fire was across the highway, a mile or so back in the hills along Corral Creek.

There were already several neighbors fighting the fire. One of them, Mick Brady, got in with Tom and Donna to help run the pumper. As they were trying to get to the top of a ridge to hit a hot spot, a rear tire went flat. Tom quickly jacked up the back of the pickup and began loosening a lug nut. Donna started for the ridge, scanning the hills for some help, and Mick was ready with the hose.

Just then, the wind shifted and the fire down by the creek started toward them, in places traveling thirty feet per second. At that moment fire also came over the top of the ridge behind them. An intense updraft must have been created between the two fires, drawing them together even faster. Tom, Donna, and Mick were standing on the edge of eternity, where life and death are one step apart. The fire was on them so fast they had no time to think—there was barely time to react.

Mick immediately saw that the fire was too powerful for his spray of water. He dropped the hose, plunged headlong into the wall of fire coming from the creek, and ran to the black earth behind it. He made it, though he was severely burned on his arms and face.

Tom ran to the front of the pickup where the fire caught and dropped him, and Donna was twenty feet up the hill. The authorities said she didn't last more than three or four seconds before she stepped across the edge and into eternity. She had no time to remember the past, or to suffer the present, or to plan for eternity. For Donna it was over.

Tom had second- and third-degree burns over ninety percent of his body, and he lived slightly more than twelve hours. He had time to express his love for his family, to confirm his relationship with Jesus Christ, and to demonstrate the peace he had facing death. Then he too went into eternity.

Tom and Donna were ready to take this step. It was not because of all the community work they had done, nor the way they had neighbored so faithfully over the years. It was not because of the way they had tried to deal honestly and fairly with those around them. They knew the Bible says that isn't enough. Do you know what is enough? Are you prepared for the time when you will come to the far edge of this life? Please take a moment and read these simple truths from God's Word, the Bible. This may be your chance to get ready.

The Bible says that God has created heaven a perfect place and will not allow even one lie to enter. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life (Revelation 21:27). "Being good" isn't good enough. Sin is characterized in the Bible as any thing short of the perfection of God. The hideous crimes of the world's infamous murderers are obviously sins, but so are the little things we do every day. If you have ever sinned once, and we all have, that one sin will keep you out of heaven. All the good things you can do with your entire lifetime cannot erase even one of those sins.

God prepared hell as a place of eternal punishment for Satan and his angels, but the person who dies in his sin, who lacks the required perfection, will also suffer in the fires of hell. God's righteousness demands that all sin must be separated from Him in hell forever. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15).

How then can man deserve heaven? Every person on earth has sinned many times, and no matter how good he is, he is still deserving of this lake of fire. Since no one is perfect, no one deserves to go to heaven. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

God's justice demands that our sin be punished, but He loves each one of us and does not want us to go to hell. God's justice and God's love appear to conflict, presenting a problem that only God Himself can solve. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).

God did solve this conflict in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. The righteous Judge of the universe took on human flesh, lived a sinless, perfect life, and allowed Himself to be nailed to the cross. There on the cross He suffered all the punishment of eternal hell that you and I deserve to suffer. On the cross He paid every bit of your sin debt. On the cross He died in your place and fully suffered your eternal penalty. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3).

Jesus Christ's complete payment for your sin made it so that there is nothing left for you to do but accept it. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12). Church membership cannot save you. Baptism cannot save you. Doing good deeds cannot save you. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). None of these things can make you perfect. Only Jesus Christ, who took all your sin upon Himself and paid for it completely on the cross, can satisfy God's justice. Now He freely offers you His perfect righteousness. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (II Corinthians 5:21).

Are you fully ready today to step into eternity? Do you have the complete assurance that if you were to die today you would go to heaven? Don't wait until you realize you are falling into eternity, for then it will be too late. The Lord Jesus Christ offers you eternal life as a gift. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23b). Won't you put your trust in Him now?

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