Life is both certain and uncertain. It's certain that you will die, but it's uncertain as to when.
Friends, that is the reality for everyone (except those who may still reside on this earth when Christ returns). But that reality often doesn't resonate with humans as it should. We get busy & distracted. Our jobs, families, responsibilities, and recreation consume our time & focus. We live in the now and ignore our approaching demise. We grind out day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and we forget that we might die at any time. We forget about both the uncertainty of our lives here & the certainty of our departure--until we are reminded by loss.
Within the last four months, two dear Christians friends have left this realm for the next. As far as I know, they were both ready to meet the Lord, which does help minimize the pain for us they left behind. They were both children of God. They both believed Jesus to be the Christ. They both committed themselves to Him and to His word. They both had been immersed in water for the forgiveness of their sins. But, that is where much of the similarities end.
I immersed Charley into Christ after studying with him weekly for years. Charley was in his 70s and in very poor health. Unwise decisions in his youth resulted in extreme difficulty in breathing. Charley had to have supplemental oxygen 24/7 so he could breathe. He didn't leave his home a lot due to the inconvenience of carrying the necessary equipment for him to breathe, but he would try to make the trip to church on Sunday mornings regularly. He'd walk over 100 feet from the parking lot to a pew and he'd be out of breath for several minutes. The last time I saw my friend Charley alive, he was doing about average. But, about 10 days later while I was away traveling, he became very ill, was hospitalized, and perished. We had had many conversations previously about his passing, however. He knew his death was inevitable and although he prayed for more years of life here, he knew he might die at any time--and he was ready. His widow is still grieving and will do so for a very long time, I believe.
I met Laura several years back via a Bible study group. She was a kind, young lady with a warm personality and great attitude. She was a lot of fun to spend time with! She made many close friends in the church here and, although it was an hour drive from her apartment, would regularly make the trip to Clinton to worship with the body here (when she wasn't working as a nurse). She had obeyed the gospel in her youth and had great plans and potential for life. She would have made a wonderful wife & mother, no doubt. But her life was cut short, from the perspective of her friends & family, at the age of 33. While visiting with friends out West, she died in a tragic car accident. One moment she was strong & vibrant and the next moment she was gone. It shocked us all. No one wants sad news like this & no one expects it, but surprises like this happen daily in our world (but usually it is to people we don't know). Many are still hurting deeply, especially Laura's parents and siblings--the ones who knew her & loved her the longest. On one hand it doesn't seem fair, but reality is unchanged.
So, why write about this now, preacher? As a reminder, dear friends. There are many in our world hurting deeply over the loss of loved ones. It is good for us to serve them & offer comfort where we can, and it is also good for us to remember that no one is promised tomorrow. Good health doesn't mean you'll be alive tomorrow. Lots of wealth doesn't mean you'll live to be old. Beauty, power, & education are also vain in this way. The wise will seek God's will today and submit to the Lord in all things. After death is the judgment (cf. Heb. 9:27), so we must live for Jesus today while we are free to choose where our allegiance lies.
James has some powerful words to reflect upon as we close:
"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. Instead you ought to say, 'If the LORD wills, we shall live and do this or that.' But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:14-17).
Friends, do not possess a presumptuous confidence regarding the future. Do not procrastinate to live for the Lord today because your life is fleeting. All will die, although we do not know when.