salm 144:4 (ESV) says, "Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow". Even though this is in the Word of God, non-believers have also embraced the realization that life is short. It has become a sort of secular platitude that all of us have tossed around at some point in time. Maybe it was when we celebrated a milestone birthday like 40 or 60. Or maybe we'll say it under our breaths when our firstborns lose their first tooth or ride their bikes without training wheels for the first time. Whenever I share with my mom that my days seem to go by so quickly caring for three little ones, she'll always say, "You're 31-years old so it feels like your life is going at 31mph. I'm 57-years old so my life feels like it's going at 57mph." Basically, it's only going to speed up, girl.
Even still, there is a disconnect. I know
in my mind that life is short. I feel
like my days are going by quickly. Yet, I still find myself mindlessly scrolling on Instagram or browsing on Amazon. I am reminded of what Screwtape (the senior demon) tells Wormwood (the new tempting demon) in C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters
"It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
Distractions, friends, are a potent tool used by the Enemy against the people of God. For me, this can look like mindless use of my time on my iPhone or in front of the television. Sometimes, I struggle to do my daily reading from my Bible reading plan yet rarely do I fail to meet my 1-hour social media limit for the day. Let this sink in:
"It takes about 70 hours to read the Bible from cover to cover. That's less than the average American spends in front of the television every month. In other words, if most people would exchange their TV time for Scripture reading, they'd finish reading the entire Bible in four weeks or less. If that sounds unworkable, consider this: in no more than fifteen minutes a day you can read through the Bible in less than a year's time"(Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 29.)
How humbling, convicting, and saddening! But still, I am a forgetful creature. Wasn't that the problem with the Israelites? They kept forgetting the Lord's goodness and faithfulness toward them. No matter what English translation of the Bible you use, the word "remember" is noted over a 100 times in the Old Testament alone. This is why it's pertinent to "preach the gospel to ourselves" daily – our sinful nature makes us prone to forget and we need to actively engage in the exercise of remembrance.
Jonathan Edwards, arguably the greatest preacher and theologian in history, knew this need to remember, and he prayed, "Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs." If the reality of eternity were ever before us, we would be more inclined to remember and embrace the gospel every day. Considering it's physically impossible (as far as I know) to tattoo one's eyeballs, how can we live with an eternal perspective? Using Jonathan Edwards' teachings, Pastor Steve Lawson recommends God's people to ponder three things every day: the shortness of life; the certainty of death; and the length of eternity.
These realities are for each one of us, and it benefits us to remember them daily: our lives on earth are short; we will die; and we will spend eternity (forever and ever) in heaven with Christ or in hell apart from Christ. It may be hard to feel the absolute truth of these realities in the midst of changing diapers, driving kids to and from school, going to the grocery store, and working to pay the bills. In fact, it was only at my dad's funeral last summer that I trulyfelt
the brevity of life and the reality of death. He was only 56-years old and the timing of his death was unexpected. In fact, I spoke to him on the phone on May 27th
and then received a call on May 31st
that he had passed away in his sleep. "Man is like a breath" indeed. And don't such tragedies produce a shock to our systems that make us say, "Am I living the way I ought?" As believers, we know that our numbered days on earth do not compare to eternity. What is 100 years on earth compared to a billion+ years in heaven or hell?
It's January 2019, and so many of us have taken time to curate a few resolutions to strive toward the next 12 months. Whether you're committing to running your first marathon or reading 52 books or getting a promotion or going on a family vacation, may we begin each morning resolved to view the day with an eternal perspective. May we resolve to say 'no' to distractions and invest in eternity. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV), "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." This is not a light suggestion given by our Savior; it is a mandate! Whatever resources you have at hand – time, energy, money, talents, etc. – use it for His glory.