Next month I will turn 39. For some, you might consider me young. For others, perhaps you consider me old. Whatever the case, I am fast approaching middle age. It is very possible that I have less days in front of me than I do behind. God only knows.
The Bible continually reminds us of the brevity of life. James writes, “Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).
This is so typically human. We make grand and glorious plans, without even knowing what tomorrow will bring. Our lives can be likened to a morning mist. It is there for a time, but then after the sun comes out, it vanishes. It is gone as suddenly as it appeared. That is what life is like.
In the midst of your busy lifestyle, let me encourage you to do a couple things.
- Go to a care facility or nursing home in order to visit with some older people who are nearing the end of their earthly pilgrimage.
- Go to a cemetery and look at some grave stones.
- Read the obituary page in your local newspaper (or online).
Maybe you think I am a little wacky for suggesting such things, but there is a method to my madness. In no way do I intend to disrespect anyone, I simply want to illustrate in a tangible way that we are mortal. One day we are going to die and meet our Maker. The Bible says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “nothing is certain in life except death and taxes.” We all know that we are going to die one day, but how many of us live, as one author put it, “in denial of death”?
Often people live like they are immortal. Often people fail to prepare for the afterlife. And no doubt countless millions find themselves surprised when they are in eternity.
Every second that we live, we create more of our past. If we are going to truly live, then we must live for Christ. We must live as if we are dying. We must live as if today counts for all eternity.
I long for the day when “death shall be no more” (Revelation 21). In the here and now, however, we must come to grips with our own mortality. We must come to see that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement” (Hebrews 9:28).
This is where the gospel comes into play. Jesus died, so that we don’t have to. Jesus died in order to defeat death for all time. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
The door to eternal life can only be opened by Jesus (John 10:7-10). Access into heaven cannot be granted by anyone save the risen Son of God (John 14:6). But you must repent and believe in the gospel, for the forgiveness of your sins (Mark 1:15).