The matter is often given very little thought. Few people relish thinking about one’s own death. Some actually approach life’s end in virtual denial. Young people usually carry on with feelings of immortality. The thinking is, “Death is only for old folks.” Seriously, when you pillow your head at night, does the thought ever occur to you that there might not be a tomorrow? We hear of people who died early and tragically. Our hearts touched, we experience remorse over the crash victims whose plane was bombed out of the sky. But death possibly knocking at my door? We don’t want to think about it. The Bible records the words of a man who wanted to contemplate the end. In an unusual request, David prayed, “Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days. Let me know how transient I am” (Psalm 39:4).
David had a keen sense of death’s proximity. At one precarious moment in his life, he said, “...there is hardly a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3). Such an awareness would inevitably affect one’s approach to living. Have you prepared for the inevitable? Think for a moment of the masses of humanity who have already made their splash in the world and have exited the canvas of this earth by way of death. For many, “the splash” was what mattered, not the end. In Psalm 39, David called it “an uproar for nothing” (vs. 6). Think of Solomon’s glory days. He rolled in wealth, power and pleasure _ the things which many people long for and firmly believe are “the good life.” He had his day, but that day concluded nearly 3 millennia ago!
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). Whether that’s true of your death depends upon the preparation you make for it. In the case of those who make no preparation, it would be better not to have been born (cf. Matthew 26:24). If we do not prepare for eternity, it matters not how much fun or how big a splash our lives made. Our time here will have been misspent.
Quality living issues from a knowledge of one’s end. We are not going to be here forever. We know that. The big question remains, “What then?” Though 70 to 80 years may seem like a long time, it is but a speck when considered against the backdrop of eternity where all are headed. This lifetime amounts to “a mere breath,” David says (Psalm 39:5); “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away,” James declares (4:14). It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to live for all of the gusto you can get out of life here and neglect the riches of eternity for it. No one in hell will say, “This is tough, but I sure had fun on my way here.” Conversely, no one in heaven will say, “This place is O.K., but it was not worth the price that I had to pay for it.” In heaven, in God’s presence, is “fulness of joy” and “pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11). That’s what everybody wants. It’s what God wants everybody to have. But we will not receive it by serving ourselves and trampling on the grace and mercy of God. Paul urged believes not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1).
What are you doing right now in preparation for the end? Do you have good intentions of serving God faithfully someday but just not right now? Tomorrow is guaranteed for no one, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). Are you harboring some sin in your heart and life from which you know you should repent? God may call you to His throne for judgment at any time. The Scriptures time and again encourage readiness and watchfulness. Why do you think preachers are always admonishing people to attend worship assemblies and Bible classes at every opportunity? Every passing day, we are one step closer to the end. While reading this article, you have inched ever closer to your inevitable interview with God. Paul’s words are true of each passing minute, “...now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed...put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:11,14).
I do not place much stock in dreams. They are silly things which often have little relevance to anything. I will never forget one dream that I had, however. Some dreams are more vivid and seem more real than others. This particular one was quite real. I woke up in a cold sweat. I dreamed about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In my limited imagination, I saw Him appear in the air. I saw the righteous ascending to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The world was starting to crack apart and burn (2 Peter 3:7-12). I stood there in that scene, waiting, wondering, looking up to Jesus. Would I be taken up or left behind? The picture in my mind could not have been any more compelling. As my fate was about to be decided, I woke up. Don’t you hate that about dreams? Not knowing the outcome, I awoke with my heart pounding at a terrific rate. But this was a good dream for me. I had been taking the end lightly. I learned an important lesson. Life is about the outcome! The outcome of faith is salvation, glory and immortality (1 Peter 1:9). The outcome of unholy living is unthinkable punishment (1 Peter 4:17,18). Some solid advice: Get ready and stay ready!