A friend of mine wasn’t feeling well. Her illness lasted for some time, and she decided to get diagnosed. She was shocked to learn that she had a very aggressive form of cancer. She was told she had weeks, or mere days, left to live.
If you suddenly learned today was your last, how would you react? Could you view your life as a success?
If I heard that news, it would be difficult not to be stricken with regrets. I should have done this better. I should have devoted more energy to that. I should have squandered less time on this.
Jesus Christ tells us, “I know thy works” (Revelation 2, 3). When He returns, “he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27). If you were measured only by your works up to today, what reward would you receive?
Generally, the younger we are, the easier it is to behave as though our days are innumerable. The future always holds promise: One day, I’ll climb that mountain. One day, I’ll conquer those weaknesses and sins. One day, I’ll build that character trait.
One day means not today.
But what if you only have today? What if you have fewer todays than you think?
As you age, those one days become too lates and never dids. You come to realize how “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass” (1 Peter 1:24). “The days of our years” pass quickly. They are easily misspent. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:10, 12).
End-of-life situations make us acutely aware of how precious today is. In another case, a man learned he had a deadly condition mere weeks before it claimed his life. Not long afterward, his widow told me that the two of them had treated each of those final days as a gift. “The last three weeks were the best weeks of our marriage,” she said. “All those things you get irritated about—suddenly those don’t seem so important. We just enjoyed each other.”
It is a shame it can take the threat of dying to make us number our days—to awaken us to our mortality, to convince us to value life and cherish what is precious.
Another woman I spoke with has a rare and serious condition, about which she can do little. It could remain unthreatening indefinitely—or it could kill her at any time. What is her attitude? She says she is excited, whatever happens. I know many older people who have acquired such serene perspective in their sunset years. This woman, however, is a young mother with small children. She trusts that God is keenly aware of this reality, and she is placing her future, her life, in His hands. This takes unusual spiritual maturity.
How does God view the death of one of His saints? He says it is precious (Psalm 116:15). For the individual whose life is hid in God, death truly does mean the end of a struggle. The next waking moment is glorious godhood! (1 Corinthians 15:52-54). That person will rise in a world where Satan is about to be banished and Christ is returning as King! That world is everything we long for. It is like Christ returning immediately.
If you learned you were about to jump straight into that future, wouldn’t you be excited? It is as if God is saying, I know you! You have qualified! I am ready to make you a God being in my Family!
The more you are using each today to serve God, the greater works He will be doing in your life, and the greater your reward when He grants you eternal life. This is an exciting perspective—God’s perspective.
Of course we miss loved ones when we lose that day-to-day sharing of life. Even this bespeaks the need to, like that couple, use each day we do have to express and grow in godly love rather than squandering it with pettiness.
Just a few weeks before receiving her diagnosis, my friend had no palpable sense of how close to death she was. Then one day she learned she had mere days left. Practically speaking, her period of qualification and judgment was nearly over. The number of talents she had earned was nearly set, and measurable (Matthew 25:14-30).
Some of us find out ahead of time we have only a few todays left. Some of us don’t. The vapor that is your individual physical life could end at any time. So there is only one day you can do anything with, and that day is today.
Use this tiny window of time for its real purpose! To love and serve God, to express and grow in godly love, to share your life with your loved ones, to qualify for your eternal position.
You and I have no guarantee that there is more than one day left for us to qualify to enter God’s Family and to secure the greatest possible spiritual reward. That day is the day we are living right now. Pray forgiveness for wasted time, misspent energy, overlooked opportunity. Stop saying, One day, I’ll get around to that. That one day—is today.