A few years ago a Chicago news station reported a local skydiving incident. The video showed the skydivers jumping out and maneuvering into position from the vantage point of the open door of the plane.
While still filming, the cameraman made his jump. Within seconds the camera was jerking wildly up and down and side to side as it plummeted to the ground. Reaching for his ripcord, the terrified diver discovered that in his excitement he had forgotten to put on his parachute! The black, silent end of that video clip was the tragic reminder of the suddenness of death.
The day of your death will arrive right in the middle of your plans. Those skydivers planned to have a great experience, to celebrate, and to go home to sleep. But God had other plans for them. He may have other plans for you as well.
God warns the overly confident planner through the author James: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (vs. 13-15)
James states two absolutes that must be considered whenever you make plans. The first is this: “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” And you don’t!
A friend of mine got up one morning to ride his all-terrain vehicle prior to breakfast. Most likely his coffee was still brewing when the ambulance came to take his dead body away. He had plans, but he did not know the future.
The second inescapable fact, James notes, is that “Your life is just a mist”—that warm moist release of air out of your mouth on a cold day. It is there, and then it is not. Whether your life is a shorter “hhh” or a longer “hhhhhh,” it is still only a nanosecond in terms of eternity.
At our family reunion I noticed my boys playing around the exposed roots of the century-old trees in front of the farmhouse. I thought to myself, “I used to play on those same roots.”
I also remembered how my aunts and uncles seemed so ancient to me when I was a boy. But then I calculated, “I’m the very age they were! And most of them are dead!” Life moves by very quickly.
The above facts create an understandable fear for any person who will seriously contemplate them. But wait a minute! There is another fact that James brings to the table. And this fact completely overwhelms the first two. Simply put, it is this: Whatever happens is entirely up to God!
It is true that we are prone to say, “Today and tomorrow we will go to this city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” But God says that we ought to say something very different.
“Instead,” James says, “you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we shall live and do this or that.'” (vs. 15) In other words, it is up to God whether we live or die, and it is up to God whether we do this or do that.
If we fail to say (and, of course, believe) the phrase, “If it is the Lord’s will,” then all of our planning is just boasting and bragging about something over which we have no control. Worse yet, such planning without recognizing the sovereignty of God is sin. (see vs. 16-17). I don’t believe that we have to wear out the phrase every time we speak about the future, but the sentiment must certainly to be there. And what you believe you do speak.
In the famous novel, Kidnapped, the young hero is being chased by brigands in a crumbling old castle. He makes his way up the stairs in the blackness, one step at a time. Yet we can see what the hero cannot—the next step he plans to take is not there!
Is your next step there? And if you die, are you ready for what follows? The Scripture says, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” Plan as you will, you will avoid neither.
In the light of the certainty of death and the uncertainty of life, doesn’t it make sense to put your trust in Christ who is called “The Rock of My Salvation?”
When Dale Ernhart made his last turn around the Daytona 500, did he know what was coming? Will you? Where will you be when you die? Will you be in a hospital room? On a sports field? Pinned in a car? Will a sign come out of heaven stating, “This is the moment of your death?”
One thing is sure—that time will come, and sooner than you think.
A relationship with Christ through faith or trust in Christ (which the Bible calls “believing in Christ”) is the answer to the insecurity of our earthly life. You must be able to live, even if you die. And you must have a life after death that will never end. Christ provides both.
Jesus said, “He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (Jn. 11:25-26)