How long will you live? When will you die, and how? Will you have any advance notice of it, or will it come instantly, unexpectedly? These are questions many people would rather not contemplate, but the reality is that none of us know if, or how much longer, we will still be allowed to live our lives.
“But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you…'” (Luke 12:20)
Several days ago our older daughter and I were rushing to the post office. She had sold her iPod and needed to mail it to the new owner. I had been talking to an aunt I never speak to for over an hour, and we both realized at absolutely the last minute that it was closing in twenty minutes, and dashed out the door. It was a good day, though. I had slept long enough and wasn’t tired for a change, and we were both in a good mood. The last thing I remember noticing as we approached our destination was that we had made good time and still had ten minutes before it closed. Then I turned into the intersection.
I have no idea what exactly happened next–whether I genuinely failed to see the oncoming car as I turned into its right-of-way or whether it was speeding so fast that I wouldn’t have seen it. All I know is that when I saw the headlights barreling at our car, I froze. Rather than speeding up to get out of its way, so that if it did hit it would be further towards the back of the vehicle instead of directly at my daughter’s door, I froze. Not until it became clear that he had succeeded in stopping–within what seemed like an inch of our car–did I move out of the way.
I parked the car and we walked into the post office, all the time acutely cognizant of the fact that we could have been living through an entirely different scenario at that moment–one filled with lights and emergency vehicles in which our daughter would have been terribly injured were she alive at all.
The truth is that while death sometimes gives advance notice, as in the case of old age or terminal illness, there are many times it simply arrives like an unexpected visitor–as our near-miss experience could have ended. This is why it is so important, so gravely significant, that we live each day as if it were our last. Not in the sense of sitting down and doing nothing, but by making sure we are living every moment right with God, having no burden on our soul because of which we would be afraid of dying or of facing Christ, anything of which we are ashamed that we have not done our utmost to make right.
God has warned us that there is only so much time and no more, beyond which we can no longer fix things or make them right:
“…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
Jesus Himself said:
“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:25-26)
If we do not make things right before we stand before the Judge it will be too late because, we are told, we will not get out of there “till you have paid the last penny.” How could we ourselves possibly pay in full for the sins we are guilty of?
So, are you ready to die? Not because you feel you have lived long enough and done everything you wanted to do (this is not for us to determine), but because you are completely right and at peace with God through the forgiveness He freely offers because of Christ? When You stand before Him will He see the Spirit of Christ in you–will He see you covered by the shed blood of the Lamb of God? Will eternal death, judgment and damnation pass over you? Or do you still stand guilty in your sins?
“And now, little children, abide in Him [live as Christ teaches, confessing your sins and turning away from them], that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him…And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.” (I John 2:28-29, 3:19-21)
Let me be ready to meet You whenever You call me and say my time is up. Let me not be caught unaware or unprepared or asleep at the wheel. Let me be ready. Amen.