My family and I recently experienced a tragic loss. My wife’s brother, who was thirty-one years old, was killed suddenly in a car accident two weeks ago.
The last few weeks have been quite an emotional whirlwind. There has been lots of grief and many tears as we have processed this tragedy. At the same time, we have been overwhelmed by God’s love and comfort, and the support and care we have received from friends, family, and our church body.
In the midst of the grieving process, there has also been a sobering effect. The word eternity has taken on new meaning, and has been impressed on my heart and mind. When you are so close to a tragedy of this nature, it forces you to think about things that you may not always contemplate.
A passage of Scripture was brought to my mind shortly after the accident. This passage highlights the fragile and short nature of our lives:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (James 4:13-14)
The fact is, we truly don’t know what a day may bring and no one is guaranteed tomorrow. This does not mean that we should not make plans or think about the future, but it is a sobering reminder that we are not in control and must be submitted to the Lord’s plans. This passage also reminds us that life is truly short. Compared to eternity, our life is like a vapor. Whether we live for one year, ten years, thirty years, or one-hundred years, it is next to nothing when placed next to eternity.
God has put eternity in the hearts of men (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). Deep down inside, we all know that life is more than our time on earth and that death is not the end of our existence. Some people suppress this truth, but it is true none the less.
As I ponder the reality of eternity, it brings questions to mind:
-Are you at peace with God?
-Are you at peace with others?
-Are you living for what matters?
Nothing is more important than peace with God. Jesus made the way for us to be reconciled to God through His death and resurrection, and all who turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus are saved and restored to relationship with God. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). If you are not at peace with God, now is the time to be reconciled to Him!
Being at peace with God allows us to be at peace with others. We cannot control how people respond, but we can forgive others, reach out, and do our part to be at peace. Is there a phone call you need to make? A person you need to forgive? A letter you need to right? A relationship you need to restore? Life is too short and eternity is too long to be in unnecessary strife with others.
In light of eternity, I want to live for what truly matters. Sometimes we can be so easily distracted by things that will not mean anything in the end. Our bank account will not count. Our social status, appearance, possessions, and other things that so easily consume our time and energy will not go with us.
What will we take with us into eternity? I believe most importantly, our relationship with God and with others. What will matter then is how we have loved God and loved others; how we have invested in others for eternal fruit; how we have obeyed God and fulfilled the purposes that He has for us.
How are you living your life, in light of eternity? Is what you are doing now going to matter then? I don’t know about you, but I am more resolved than ever to live for eternity!