Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Well what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."

The day before yesterday (December 13) marked the 15th anniversary of the night that Helen and I walked down an aisle at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and accepted Christ as our Savior.  It marked a night when we both decided that it was time to stop fooling ourselves thinking that we were being successful trying to be the boss of our own lives.  That might sound a bit weird, since for the most part, both of us even at that time were doing well enough in life.  We’d done well in school and professionally, and we had (and still have, thank the Lord) a thriving and flourishing marriage and family. 

But there was more to it than just that, more to the decision than just turning over control … more to it than just hoping that God handled our details way better than we did or would.

It was definitely about recognizing God’s immense love for us, the love that led to Him sending His one and only Son Jesus to be born (for which of course we celebrate CHRISTmas in a couple weeks – despite what some elements of our society want us to think about the meaning of CHRISTmas).  It was definitely about the forgiveness of our sins, which Jesus openly and sacrificially provided to us through His death on the cross of Calvary.  There was an additional significance for us, an additional meaning, an additional purpose …

A particular passage from my reading this week (Proverbs 26 – 31, Isaiah 42 – 48, and Ezekiel 36 – 42) might help convey some of the thinking … a short passage that jolted me in Proverbs 27:1 and in a way (indirectly, unbeknownst to us) jolted Helen and me a decade and a half ago.

Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.

As people we live life with an inherent presumption that tomorrow follows today.  By and large it does, in a technical, scientific way.  But in a temporal, personal, individual way that’s not necessarily the case.  That is, as the passage in Proverbs 27 points out, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

On average, about 100 people die every minute globally.  Every minute.  100 people. 

Twenty-six people get diagnosed with cancer every minute globally.  About 60 people will have a heart attack or stroke in the next minute.  Roughly 67 people are injured or disabled in car accidents every minute.

So what assurance do we have that the next minute … let alone the next day … will be just as smooth and wonderful as today.  Statistically speaking, it seems unlikely.

Fifteen years ago, my wife and I came to the ends of ourselves and fell at God’s feet after the confluence of a number of events in life … what I tell people was essentially because of the sum total of everything that happened in my life up to that point.  But for me at least, it was also because I asked myself the pseudo-rhetorical question, “If what the Bible says about heaven and hell, eternal life and eternal separation from God is true, don’t I want to be sure I’m on the right side of the equation?”  In part, carrying out our decision that night was influenced by the uncertainty that we would have the chance or take the chance the following day.

Which one of us knows with 100% certainty that the next minute will be the same as this one?  That the next hour will?  How about the next day?  Bottom line … one person out of one will die in their lifetime.  When you take into consideration other bad things that can happen … and will / do to hundreds of thousands of people around the world every day, it’s a wonder that we live the way we do.  That is, we live as though we haven’t a worry in the world about tomorrow.   Don’t get me wrong, I’m not much for worrying in general, but I do think it’s prudent to be mindful of our tomorrow.  It’s wise to acknowledge that our next breath is in no way guaranteed.  In no way is it guaranteed that our next day will bring the satisfaction, security, health, serenity, fulfillment, stability, etc., that this day did.  It’s not even assured that we’ll remember today tomorrow.  To think any differently is foolish if not deluded.

The point is this, at the risk of being somewhat cliché … if we knew with 100 percent assurance that we were not going to survive longer than the next sixty minutes, how would that change our lives?  If we knew conclusively that tomorrow was going to be fundamentally different than today, but in ways that left us unsure about whether it would be better or worse, what would we do to make this next hour, or the day today last longer, have a bigger impact, stick in our memories or in the memories of others longer?  Who would we call, who would we see, what would we do, who wouldn’t we pass by without notice, who wouldn’t we blow-off, who wouldn’t we yell at or speak disrespectfully to, who would we encourage or forgive?  What quality time would we get with others?  Or with God?  Would we THEN start reading God’s word?   Would we THEN start communicating with God in prayer? Would we choose to follow … to really follow the God of second, third … and last … chances?  Would we choose to give ALL to the One who will give us back all the MORE?

So why aren’t we doing it now?  I’ve said it many times before (so my apologies if you’re hearing me repeat myself) … the fact is, we ALL only have 60 minutes left in life.  The only question is, when does the 60-minute countdown start?  We don’t always know, so it’s at least possible that we’re at minute 49 at this moment.

In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray quips, “Well what if there is no tomorrow?  There wasn’t one today.”  (Again, another MUST SEE movie).

We’re only an hour away from the reality of that question folks.

Lord, remind us that our clock countdown might be ticking at this very minute, and help us to live in such a way that is reflective of that realization.  Help us to live every moment of our life as though it’s our last.  Show us the areas in our life that need to be treated as though they are our last such moments in those areas.

Thank you, God, that today is today, and tomorrow is … who knows?



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