I recently heard a talk where a Christian speaker asked the following question: “What if you learned you were part of an experiment where the next 24 hours would determine the quality of the rest of your life? Everything from the job you hold to the neighborhood and house you live in will be tied to how you navigate a single day. How would you approach those 24 hours? Would you be intentional, or would you leave things to chance and hope for the best?”
His point was that if you knew your entire life was going to be affected, for good or for bad, by the actions you took between right now and this time tomorrow, you would obviously consider every word you spoke and every move you made with painstaking caution. In fact, all you’d be thinking about for the next 24 hours would be that you were making wise choices – no matter the cost – so you could spend the rest of your earthly life reaping the benefits. It’s a no-brainer. Say you’re 35 right now and you expect to live until the average death age in the US, which is 78.8 years, that means you’ve got 383 688 hours left of your life. And who wouldn’t be willing to work hard, make sacrifices, face challenges, take risks, or do whatever else is required of them for the next 24 hours in order to make the remaining 383 653 hours of their life magnificent?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see it. When you put a 24-hour time period against the backdrop of the rest of our life, those 24 hours are minuscule in comparison.
False Teachers And Vain Pursuits
The speaker then asked another question: How long is eternity? Well, it’s a lot longer than 383 653 hours! Eternity is, well, eternity. It’s forever. And the Bible tells us that the quality of our eternal lives will be based on how we spent our earthly lives – our earthly lives, which we’d do well to remember, could be ripped away from us at any moment.
Over and over, Scripture tells us to focus on the things above, not on the things of this earth, to store up our treasures in Heaven, to press on toward the finish line, to keep our eyes on the prize… Heaven is our home, it’s where we belong, and it’s where we have our true citizenship.
And yet, in churches around America prosperity preachers continue to tickle the ears of their congregations, falsely teaching that God wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and problem-free. People come flocking from near and far to hear them speak while the pews of solid, Bible-preaching churches stay empty.
We Christians know this world is not our final destination. Why then, do we invest so much of our time, effort, and money in it? Why are we for the most part chasing after the same things as unbelievers? Why aren’t we more zealous for personal holiness, more consumed by a passion to do the will of God, more on fire to reach the lost with the Gospel? Why are the teachings from our pulpits wishy-washy, compromising and non-confrontational?
Why do we waste so much of our time on TV and movies and video games and computers and iphones? Why do we spend so little time thinking about, investing in, and longing for, our real home – Heaven? If we’re completely honest with ourselves, can we truly say with the Apostle Paul, “I’d rather be with Christ”?
When All Is Said And Done
My purpose with this post is not to try to guilt you out but to make you ponder the brevity of your earthly existence. I want to encourage you to evaluate how you spend your time. Fact is, most of us go about living our lives as if we have all the time in the world. “Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow,” says a popular adage. A cute, feel-good quote, but the truth of the matter is that one day you’re going to be out of tomorrows, and if you lived your life by the mantra that you’ll always get a second chance, you’re going to be looking back at a life of some pretty serious regrets.
Deathbed regrets are a very real thing. Google the term and you’ll find several different lists that researchers have compiled from interviews with elderly and/or terminally ill people: “I wish I hadn’t been so afraid to take risks.” “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” “I wish I’d stayed in touch with family and friends.” “I wish I’d traveled more.” “I wish I’d taken better care of my health.” “I wish I hadn’t held so many grudges.” “I wish I’d known how to live in the moment.” I wish, I wish, I wish…
It’s heartbreaking to read, but it’s reality: Way too many of us arrive at the end of our earthly journey only to realize we pursued the wrong things and didn’t take time for what was truly important.
Now, if you were to conduct this type of survey among Christians exclusively, I suspect the number one answer you would get would go something like this: “I wish I’d lived more for Jesus.” Can you imagine anything more tragic than that – coming to the end of your life and recognizing that you never did much for Christ? That you never really used your gifts for the Kingdom, didn’t touch lives for eternity, didn’t do what you were created, and saved, for? Instead, you merely focused on being comfortable and having fun and accumulating stuff and trying to fit in…
Finding True Fulfillment
I can think of only two things that we do in this life that have any eternal value: Proclaiming the Gospel to the lost through our words and good deeds, and help equipping fellow believers so they can grow spiritually. Only that which is done out of genuine love for God and for people is going to outlast this world.
I hope this has given you something to reflect on. As I get ready to step down from my soap box here, I want to leave you with some final thoughts: It seems to me most Christians in America today want a big helping of the world’s goodies with a little bit of Jesus on the side. At the same time they want to experience joy, inner peace, and lasting fulfillment.
Problem is that as long as we pursue success the world’s way, true satisfaction will forever elude us. Because it isn’t found in what the world has to offer! Everything the world has to offer is merely pseudo… A fake, an imitation, a mirage… True fulfillment is only found in a deep, intimate, heart-felt, ever-growing relationship with Christ and by living out His purpose for your life. The only way to achieve real satisfaction, then, is to make your life more about Jesus and less about the world.
Friend, the clock is ticking. As a mere sojourner here on earth, please, please be mindful of the choices you make, the voices you listen to, and the direction in which you’re going with the rest of your life.
You have one precious life. Live as if right now counts for all eternity. Because it DOES.