This past month I turned 36. I still consider myself rather young, maybe that is because I am one of the younger married Christians here in Grinnell. And yet, despite my youth, I have known many who I have gone to school with who have died. While in high school a wrestling team mate of mine was shot and killed by someone trying to steal from his home. Two years after my high school graduation our star running back died of a heart attack. He was a soldier. He was just out for his morning run and had a bad enough heart attack that the doctors said that he died instantly. A year later, a person I didnít get along with very much was shot and killed in Chicago during a gang initiation. There may have been more, but I have lost touch with many of my high school classmates. This past week I learned that I had another college classmate die of cancer. This was the 3rd classmate of mine from college that has died. All three of them died from medical conditions. The last, was actually younger than me and he died of stomach cancer. I canít even begin to imagine the heart ache his family feels right now.
I may be a young man, but I have no delusions about the longevity of life. Sure, my weight loss is said to have added years back to my life. But, even that is no guarantee. It is a statistic game. It is playing the odds. Odds are, I will live a longer life now that I am not carrying 115 extra pounds. But that doesnít mean that I wonít die of a heart attack tomorrow. (That star RB that died right out of high school was the most physically fit person I have ever personally known and he died of a heart attack). It doesnít mean that I wonít get cancer. It doesnít mean that I wonít get hit by a careless driver as I am out running around town. Life is fickle. It is short. And none of us really know how many years we actually will have.
James put it this way, ďwhat your life will be like tomorrow? You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (James 4:14).Ē Your life is a vapor. A vapor doesnít last forever. A vapor appears and just as quickly as you can see it, it vanished into the air. That is our life. We are a blip on the radar; there one minute and gone the next.
Sure, this seems like a very bleak way of looking at things. But it is only bleak if you fail to realize that physical living is what is a vapor. This physical world is limited in time. Your time in this world is even more limited. But, after your life has passed, your soul lives on. There is much debate over the real meaning of Christís story about Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16:19-31. This article is not meant to dive into those discussions. What I can know about this story is the certainty of which Jesus talks about consciousness after death. Death is not the end, it is only the beginning of new life. For some, that new life will be as it was for Lazarus. It will be one filled with goodness, kindness, comfort. For others, that life will be as the Rich Manís. It will be one filled with suffering, pain, and a longing for a relief that will never come. Personally, I think this is the lesson that many people are missing. Life is short. If we donít make the most of our short lives on this earth. If we donít prepare ourselves for that day in which we cross over that threshold of death, we are not going to have a life worth living. I personally think this story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is all about being prepared for the day you die.
Of course, every good Christian should know that Jesus is coming. He will come as a thief in the night (II Pet. 3:10; I Thes. 5:2). I remember the most profound lesson I have ever heard on this reality. I was home for the summer during my college years. The preacher, Steve Miller, was scheduled to give the invitation that night. After class, everyone was socializing and catching up while all the kids (there were about 20 of them) made their way upstairs after class. Steve, aware that all of the kids had made it upstairs stood at the podium watching. Everyone kept talking. Steve picked up what looked to be a rather large Strongís Concordance. He slammed it down on the podium. The entire congregation jumped. Most of us scared out of socks. He simply stated, ďThe coming of the Lord will happen just like that. Are you ready?Ē In fact, before you even have a chance to finish this article, the Lord could come again. Are you ready? Do you know how to get ready?
Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Mark 16:16)? Are you willing to repent of your sins (Luke 13:3)? Are you will to give the good confession (Rom. 10:9)? Are you willing to be immersed, baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16)? Have you lived a faithful life (Rev. 2:10)? If you answered no to anyone of these questions you are not ready.
It looks like you made it to the end of the article. But, are you sure you still have enough time to delay? -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Life is a Fickle Thing
Volume 5 Issue 43