I’ve spent some time over the last few days reflecting on the past year and beyond. One thing that has struck me particularly hard this year is the simple fact that 2015 is over. I am increasingly amazed at the rapid pace of life and change. I remember when I was a kid I would often complain about how long the school year was, or how far away Christmas was, or how long it would take to get to whatever point in time that was important to me at the time. Everything took so long. My grandmother would tell me “you just wait...when you get older, time will fly by and you won’t know where it all went.” Man, was she right, and at 34 years old I’m told it only gets worse from here. Just a few years ago my wife and I had no kids, now we have three including a little foster baby. Just a few years ago I was relentlessly pursuing advancement in the corporate world, now I’m serving God in a local church. Over the course of just a few years I have lived in all corners of this nation, numerous friends and relatives have died, my entire life has changed in many ways, and it has all gone by in the blink of an eye.
And not to be too morbid, but the rest of this life will be over in another blink of an eye. Literally at any moment, you or I could breathe our last breath and enter into eternity. Whether you believe that we simply cease to exist when we die or that we enter heaven or hell, you must admit that this significant truth should fundamentally and absolutely impact the way we live our lives.
I have two questions I want to encourage you to reflect on today:
If you were told you were going to die tomorrow would you have any regrets?
If the answer is yes, then change something! I meet so many people that limp and crawl through life. Some are crippled by unnecessary debt and the “need” for bigger houses and more stuff; some are bogged down by the “need” for perpetual career advancement; some put money (or fill-in-the-blank) before their family; some have goals and visions and dreams that they never take a single step towards accomplishing. I’m not talking about necessity – e.g. working hard to provide for your family, etc., but rather personal choices that lead us down a path that if you were told you were going to die tomorrow you’d regret. Here’s the reality: you just might die tomorrow, but chances are no one is going to give you the heads up. What are you waiting for?
If you were told you were going to die tomorrow do you know that you know that you know where you would be the next day? Please don’t stop reading.
This question is blown off by so many people and I just don’t understand why. Eternity is a long time to gamble with. It’s a long time to place your bet on your personal feelings or a theory about God and eternity that you’ve invented on your own – and yet this is exactly what many, many people are doing, especially in America. I know this isn’t a popular statement in our culture these days, but at the end of the day some people will be right and others will be wrong. If I’m wrong and there is no God and we simply cease to exist when we die, then I’ve lost nothing. In fact, I’m living a fulfilling life and it is indeed well with my soul. If I’m right – and I’m certain that I am – then those who have differing beliefs than me regarding eternity are in real trouble. There is a truck barreling towards them and they don’t even know it. It's so hard to have this conversation because no one wants to "judge" other people's beliefs. But can we at least agree that this is a big deal? And perhaps also that having this conversation isn't about "judgement" it's about love. Friends please don’t gamble with this – God is real and he loves you and wants to spend eternity with you. What greater purpose could you possibly find in life than serving the one who created you? All he wants is your belief that he exists and your acknowledgement that you need him – this is the foundation of Christianity. We have rejected God through our beliefs and our behaviors, but because God loves us, he reconciles us to himself through Jesus Christ when we simply believe and turn to Him with our lives. It's a really good deal. Here's a couple verses from the bible that say it much better than I can:
John 3:16 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 10:9-10 (ESV) ...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
If I were to die today, I know that I would stand before my creator and judge – what an awesome, profound, incredible moment this will be. Take a moment to think about it. But I walk through this life with full assurance that on that day I will be accepted because of my faith in Jesus. I love how the great hymn My Hope is Built says it:
When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.
It is indeed well with my soul. How’s yours?