Living with awareness of our mortality
Are you and I becoming more and more aware of our mortality – without being morbid? I am. Are you ready to meet Christ at your next conscious moment?
It’s undoubtedly easier for people with serious health issues or for older people to have this awareness of our mortality. But it should be an awareness we all should have – whether healthy or not right now. Our lives can change suddenly and in an instant.
I want to face that awareness of my mortality with a confidence of having fought a good fight and run the course given to me, as Paul said (2 Tim. 6:7). That wasn’t just for Paul but for all of us (1 Timothy 4:12). Still working on that part by forming the right trusting relationship with my Savior and Father.
David said God gave mankind by David’s time, about 70 years of life. After that, it’s bonus or grace. Obviously in our day, many live into their 80’s to even past age 100.
Psalms 90:9-10 – “For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh. 10--The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
We know Methuselah and many others lived over 900 years. And for many of you, your dad or mom or grandpa lived into their 80’s and 90’s and longer. Regardless: everyone’s first moment of awareness after our death – whether young or old – will be with Christ, one way or another. (Hebrews 9:27; John 5:28-29). Some will receive praise (2 Cor. 4:5) from God.
But what about you? And why does it matter? Are you ready to have your next moment of awareness be in your resurrection -- and what happens after that? Literally, our “life expectancy” or “lifetime” could be our very next breath or heartbeat. Are you ready for that to be the conclusion of your life?
Have you ever been taken to the hospital by ambulance? It really wakes you up to the fact that “this could go either way” and your time left on earth could be mere minutes.
I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance about a year or so ago after severe chest pains. One moment I was feeling great. The next moment, I felt like someone had stuck an ice pick into my chest all the way to outside my back. And it felt like it was throbbing there, in and out, and not subsiding. That’s when I called for my wife to take me to ER nearby – and with just a few checks on me, they rushed me into an ambulance to the full hospital.
As I rode to the hospital by ambulance – though I honestly was not afraid, the thought did cross my mind, “is this the way I finally go”? I was connected to various monitors and had things stuck into me by the EMT all the way to hospital. I was answering his questions. Then in a quiet moment, I wondered if I had let God do as much in my life as He may have wanted or could have – or did I resist his will for my life? And now I am much more aware of how quickly things can change.
Our life can end suddenly. Or it can drip away little by little, as you slowly die with severe pain, or Alzheimer’s – like my wife’s mom. Like grandma. Like my brother’s wife recently. But one way or another, we all will die unless Christ returns in our lifetime.
Are you ready?
For my dad, at 61, it was after a hard day’s work in the Philippines, but with a weak heart after many prior heart attacks -- he just lay down to sleep and never woke up. For my mom at 65, it was a sudden stroke and that was it. I was only 30 and 40 when they left us.
And going further back to when we were just 29 years old, how awful it was hearing my young wife’s screams as she pointed to our young first son’s lifeless tiny body and his dark blue face on our bed. I’ve never been able to hear screams or ambulance sirens ever since then without reliving the indescribable horror of those moments.
But once again, the suddenness of how quickly our lives could change -- was slapping me in the face. My attempts at CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for our little David were so frustrating as nothing happened – as I prayed my heart out and breathed in deeply into his tiny mouth to give him air. But it was too late. His face was dark blue and his body already hardening. I remember being amazed at how many tears I was splashing on to his still and lifeless form. He was so small, so new, so young – and gone. Suddenly.
Mortality. Your mortality. Mine. Are we aware of it? Our physical life can end at any time – or not. Paul urges us to “make the most of our time” – or “redeeming the time” we have. In Greek, it’s literally “buy back the time” you have left.
Ephesians 5:15-16 CJB -- “Therefore, pay careful attention to how you conduct your life — live wisely, not unwisely. 16 Use your time well, for these are evil days.”
Other translations say, “Redeeming the time”. Holman Bible says “Making the most of the time…”
I tell these stories only to help make the point of how quickly things change. Just a buzz on your cell phone in your pocket can mean “it’s started”. The notification could be someone trying to alert you of a dear one in an accident, or in the hospital, or who has died. Will you be ready?
Even on a worldwide basis, remember how quickly a virus changed the whole world. Suddenly!
Just a couple days ago, we got the notice that one of our neighbors had died of Covid-19, the terrible virus from China. I had come to know her, been there for some needs she had, and even worshipped with her at her place of worship. But suddenly – she was gone. We’ve personally known 3 others who have died from Covid-19. In those other cases, there were prayer requests for a few days – and then they too had died. So those weren’t instant, but still rather sudden.
How suddenly things can change. That’s the point.
Yeshua said the very end time’s events will be like those in the days of Lot and Noah. We tend to think he was addressing how evil the end time will be, but if you read it, Yeshua’s main point was actually on how SUDDENLY their end came. I actually have a sermon on this too.
Paul described the very end time by saying it will seem peaceful and safe – then sudden destruction. (1 Thessalonians 5). He also said it would be like a pregnant woman who knows the time is close – then her water breaks suddenly, at the worst possible time and place. Read it below:
1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 – “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”
You and I may not have time or may not be given time to spend a few months seeking God, repenting, fasting, changing, overcoming before the “end” comes to you or me.
My point in this message is simple: don’t assume you have all the time in the world to seek your God, to pray often to Abba our dear Father or talk to our Beloved Yeshua and to build the strongest possible relationship.
Relationships take time. Sure, God can and does hear “deathbed repentances”. But don’t risk your eternal assignment and even communication with last minute planning.
I had a classmate “in the church” in high school who said he would quit messing around at the “11th hour”. I remember telling him as a 17-year-old, “the problem with that, is that you could die suddenly at 10:30 pm and have no eleventh hour”. He did die suddenly, shot in the chest multiple times. He never did get his life in order.
So we may not be given all the time we hope for. Some of you won't’ agree with me on that. Fine, but I’d rather play it safe and always be ready. NOW is the time to pray as never before. Now is the time to pray OFTEN, many times a day. Now is the time to stop habitual sins that you’ve allowed to fester in your life.
And yes, we all hope Messiah will return soon, in our lifetimes, or in the next 10 years. But no matter when he returns, his “return” to you may be your next heartbeat or breath! We must live with that awareness; not morbidly, but with seriousness of our time – even as we EAGERLY await our meeting with him, knowing – like Paul said about his own life – that he had fought the good fight and there awaited him the crown of righteousness.
That’s the right balance. We know we can die at any time but we’re ready – whether we live or die anytime soon or not. We’re ready – in faith in our Messiah and our awesome Father. We’ve repented and turned away from our sins. We’ve accepted Yeshua – Jesus Christ – as our Savior and Master. We accepted his righteous covering over us, and his life now has become our life (Col. 3:3-4). His righteousness has been credited to our account (Romans 4:5-8, 23-24) and so God now sees Jesus’ goodness in us. And we accepted that (2 Cor. 5:21).
So we don’t have to fear death. We don’t fear meeting our God. In fact, we have confidence in him and look FORWARD to being with Christ.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 – “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have LOVED His appearing.”
Do WE have that confidence to LOVE his appearing? We should!
Hebrews 9:27-28 -- “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who EAGERLY wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Did you get that? EAGERLY awaiting him. In fact when he comes – He will have judgment on those destroying the earth, yes. But he will have PRAISE for those who are his people, those “who do good” (1 Peter 2:15b).
1 Corinthians 4:5
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's PRAISE will come from God.”
So BE ready – no matter how much or how little time we have left – BY CHANGING the way we live and letting the Messiah’s life BE our new life. The “old self” in us should no longer be dominant.
1 Peter 4:1-4 “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.”
Titus 2:11-15 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Philippians 1:21-22 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell”.
Let’s live -- soberly and joyfully looking forward to meeting our Beloved Savior. Let’s take our remaining lives seriously and thankfully. If we have serious sinful habits, let’s be done with that and let’s let Christ live in us now as never before.