“…For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)
Shortly after the Northridge earthquake of 1994, I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic with thousands of other commuters trying to get into the San Fernando Valley. The 405 was closed for repairs, as some of you from the area may remember, and we were being rerouted into the valley by way of the 138 and the 14. I had a preaching engagement that Wednesday night in none other than Northridge itself, and was in fact trying to get to the CSUN campus where the church at which I was to speak held their midweek services.
As I sat there in that slow moving line of cars, meditating on my message entitled, Making the Most of the Moment, the Lord spoke to me from the verse above. He said to me, “The reason so many of my children waste so much time is because they live as though they had an unlimited supply of it.” I think it is fair to say that most of us live without much of a day-to-day awareness that we have an expiration date stamped upon our lives. It may be soon or many years away, but if the Lord tarries His coming, we will, each and every one of us, go the way of all flesh. Nothing is any more impartial in this life than death. 100 out of 100 people die.
What is truly painful to be conscious of is not merely the reality that people die. Death is simply a fact of life. What pains me more is the arrogance and presumption with which many people live, as though there was not a day of reckoning eventually coming. I’m not just talking about facing God and giving an account of how we lived before Him, but the reckoning many will face themselves when confronted with the realization that time has caught up with them and they have lived out their lives with no real sense of a transcendent purpose beyond pursuing their own dreams and doing as they pleased. For anyone who espouses a naturalistic or materialist world-view, that last statement would be completely incomprehensible. After all, since we’re nothing but the product of matter plus chance plus time, what else should one do but seek to get the most out of the few brief years we are given on this inconsequential ball of water and dirt hurtling through the galaxy?
If indeed that were all there was to it, they might have a point. The Bible, however, reveals a very different story. According to God’s version of events, there is very little inconsequential or random in any of this. Were I a physicist, I would tell you all about the Anthropic Principle, how everything in our world, and indeed the entire universe, seems to have conspired to create a planet whose conditions fit within the incredibly narrow margins necessary to sustain human life. God fashioned this world intentionally to be the home of His prize creation, Man, whom He would redeem with the blood of His only begotten Son that we might know eternal life, joy, and significance before Him. Thus, this life is not a disposable commodity to be used as one might see fit, but an incredibly brief space of time in which we are called upon to seek for Him and discover the eternal purpose for which we were created. God’s plan extends beyond both ends of our space-time reality, having begun before time began, when He predestined us to be His, and continuing into the ages beyond that final day when time shall be no more and we stand before Him as the redeemed of the ages, clothed in glory in that heavenly city.
I have neither the words nor the eloquence to do honor to the majesty, wisdom, and glory of God’s eternal plan, but I can say that God made real to me as a young man just how brief our time on this earth really is. As a teenager I was doing what most teenagers do. To say the least, I was not making the best use of my minutes, hours, and days. I was young and invincible and had all the time in the world to make all those important decisions regarding the direction of my life. I would deal with that later, after I had my fun. After all, everyone gets this stuff out of their system and starts making good use of their time when they grow up…right? That was the fatal presumption that God showed me I was living under when He arrested my attention. He made it clear to me that tomorrow never really comes; that each new day that rolled around would present the same opportunity to postpone those important decisions until a “more convenient” time. After all, there’s always tomorrow. But that is not true. It’s not just for our universe that time will one day be no more. Though time may continue for many, many years to come, you and I have a relatively short time in which to make the choices that will fill our lives with meaning and purpose, as well as prepare us for eternity.
My earnest prayer for you today is that you would stop long enough from your pursuits to ask yourself if your todays are preparing you for a meaningful tomorrow. God has a significant life planned for you. He has called each and every one of us to be world-changers and history makers. One day, when the faded fabric of time falls back to reveal a new heaven and a new earth, the consequence of today’s choices will be fully seen, both for us and for those who were influenced by the lives we chose to live for His glory. Don’t wait to make the decision to live for Him, for time will not wait for you. May you step up and stand out in your generation as one who makes a difference, both in there here and now and in the ageless eternity yet to come.