“A little birdie told me.” We say that to indicate someone divulged to us a bit of information we were not meant to hear, but for today, a sparrow’s accident literally illustrates the brevity of our lives.
“Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise.” (Psalms 90:12 NCV)
I have no idea if it was a male or female, or whether it was flying for the sheer joy of being able to, or attempting to find food for itself or its family–but it flew straight into our patio door and died. As a matter of fact, it’s still there on his back with his little legs curled up on top of him as if he’s merely taking a nap–I haven’t had the heart to dispose of him properly yet. But even though his remains are there, “he”–the living creature he formerly was–is quite gone, and I doubt the poor thing had any idea his life would end so abruptly.
And isn’t that just like us? We rush about trying to juggle the existential tension of the urgent demands of survival and that which is eternally important, never fully comprehending how abruptly–in less than the blink of an eye–our existence could be truncated.
And we often fail to recognize that what we call “life”–the living, breathing, functioning essence of our existence–is of God.
“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” (Genesis 2:7 NLT)
“…the Spirit of God has [literally] made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4 NLT) We acquire life from God, and even though we call it ours, it is a gift–a privilege–and will someday be recalled to its Giver to give an account for how it was spent. When will that be? We don’t know, but we do know that “…Every day of my life was recorded…[And] Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalms 139:16 NLT) God knows when.
So how should we then live, to quote Francis Shaffer’s famous book? How should knowing that our lives could end at any moment impact how we approach our day by day activities–our interactions with others, our decisions, our relationship with Christ Himself?
We must always “…remember that the heavenly Father to whom …[we] pray has no favorites. [That] He will judge or reward…[us] according to what…[we] do. So…[we] must live in reverent fear of Him during…[our] time here as “temporary residents.”” (1 Peter 1:17 NLT)
But hasn’t Jesus Christ paid for our sins? Why must I be so concerned with how I live? We must be concerned with how we live because Jesus came to save us from our sins–in this life and the next–not take away the punishment for sin so we can sin more and more. Any sin is an affront to the holiness of God, and He forgives us because of Jesus His Son, but our holy life lived in reverent fear–our high regard for God–is evidence of our belief in Christ Jesus.
In closing, I’m going to quote the entire passage this verse is found in, because Bible verses should never be taken out of context, and reading it all helps us better understand:
“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:13-25 NLT)
Be my Lord–my real Master, the Boss of my life. Impress on me the true brevity of my life, that I may apply my heart to wisdom and live in reverent fear of the gravity of my situation for the moments I have left. Amen.