You have one year left to live – what would you do with it?
Would you continue your life as it is, or would you make radical changes? Would you continue working at your job, or would you find some other way to get money? Would you contact people you haven’t spoken to for a while to clear the air with them or maybe thank them for something they did long ago? Would you read the Bible more? Would you throw yourself at God’s mercy and beg him for forgiveness? Would you forgive?
You have one month left to live – what would you do with it?
Would you continue working, or would you walk away from the daily grind? Would you stay where you are or go to your favourite place with your favorite people? Would you be honest with friends and family about the one month you have left to live, or would you hide it from them? Would you grow closer to God and Jesus or push them away in anger?
You have one day left to live – what would you do with it?
Watch a movie? Read a blog?
Unless we take matters into our own hands (which I do not recommend), we don’t know how much time we have left on Earth. Even Jesus didn’t know until his time drew near. God keeps this information from us so that will make choices of our own free will. We are judged on those choices. Jesus says that our every idle thought and word will be judged.
The choices we make when we think we have many years left to live are quite different from those we make when we know we have only a few months or days or hours. It’s like the difference between moving house, when you can take all of your belongings – furniture, clothing, food and knick-knacks – and bugging out, when you can take only the bare essentials in one bag.
During his ministry years, Jesus lived in bug-out mode. He was constantly on the move and only took with him those things that he needed for the short-term. This is what he modeled for his followers, who likewise were constantly on the move and only took with them those things they needed for the short-term.
We have no guaranteed time on Earth. We get what God gives us, so we need to do our best every day, not just sometimes when we feel like it. Scripture tells us about the person who thought he had a long time yet to live and so backslid into a depraved life, only to be caught unawares and to end up dying in his sins. This is a frightening cautionary tale. If it’s not frightening to you, you need to read it and reread it until it is.
Jesus tells us to live with our loins girded and oil in our lamps, ever-ready to leave at a moment’s notice. This state of readiness should be our permanent state of being on Earth. Think of firemen at a fire station in between calls. They clean and maintain their truck so that it’s optimally functional; they work out to build their physical strength; they rest and eat nutritious meals to maintain their health… so when the alarm goes off without notice, they’re 100% prepared to leave the station within seconds.
How many Christians live up to this ideal? How many live their day-to-day lives with loins girded and oil in their lamps, ready and willing to leave at a moment’s notice and with no regrets? I think very few do. I think most Christians put the thought of death far from them and never think about what they would do if they had only one year or one month or one day.
Or one hour.
Or a minute.
We need to think about our physical death even more than we need to think about our physical life; we need to prepare for death even more than we prepare for daily life. Death can come to us at any moment and in any number of ways. This thought shouldn’t frighten us but instead inspire us to look closer at how Jesus lived and taught us to live.
It’s a cliché to say that life on Earth is a journey, but it is a journey, and the destination is death. It can’t be any other way. You can’t avoid dying. Even Jesus died for a short time. But what you can do is prepare for death and what comes after death, and do so to the best of your ability. This should be your obsession. It was Jesus’ obsession.
Everything he did was with an eye to his final moments on Earth and the glory that would come afterwards. Every step he took he did so knowing his steps were numbered. This gave him the drive to work ceaselessly for the Kingdom with full understanding that only work for the Kingdom had any lasting value.
Before he launched his ministry, Jesus reviewed every aspect of his life and removed from it anything that did not in some way contribute to his work in the Kingdom or that outright interfered with it. He did this without a second thought and without looking back. To him, there was no other way forward to his destination than to clear the path of obstacles. Sometimes people are the main obstacles in the way; sometimes we’re our own worst obstacle.
So I ask you once again – if you had only one year, one month, or one day left to live, would your life change radically from what it is, or would you continue as you are? This is not something that you need to tell me, but something that you need to discuss with God. And you need to do so with the same urgency as a fireman springing to life when the alarm rings.