President Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un recently traded barbs about who had the largest “nuclear button.”
Soon after, an emergency missile alert accidentally went out to everyone in Hawaii, sparking panic as thousands of people, assuming they had only minutes to live, scrambled to seek shelter and say their final goodbyes to loved ones.
Mudslides in southern California killed at least 20 people.
And there was a fatal school shooting in Kentucky.
Lots of fear. Life at times flashes before us, unexpectedly.
Which leads me to this question: Are we ready to die?
What if one such emergency visited your neighborhood?
No guarantees …
We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. None of us is.
We know this.
We eat nutritious foods, exercise and live a healthy lifestyle to try to prolong a happy, healthy time on Earth. Often it works.
I’ve been blessed with a healthy body, which I don’t take for granted. I enjoy ice cream or a chocolate chip cookie as much as anyone, but I don’t overindulge in them. I try to get some exercise once or twice a week.
All things in moderation.
It’s worth the effort. I rarely call in sick to work. I don’t sit on the sidelines because my body won’t let me do what I enjoy doing. I know many of you can’t say this. Each of us does our best with what we’ve been given.
… except death
But even in the best of situations, it won’t last forever. Our bodies eventually will wear out. It’s inevitable.
I am ready to die today. I’m not hoping to die or expecting to die; I’m not fatalistic about it.
But I’m ready.
It might not happen for another 40 years. That’s great, too. I’ll serve God on this Earth for as long as I’m here.
We all think about what might happen in the next life. We’re wired that way. We know we’re mortal. Some of us try to suppress those thoughts, but we all have them.
Especially as death nears, so I’ve heard.
Preparing for forever
Why wait until then to address the issue? There are things we can do now to prepare for forever.
I will be with Jesus Christ in heaven when I die. This I know. Whether it’s today or 40 years from now, it will happen.
The God of the Bible is not the same as the gods of any other religion or belief system. We do not have our own truth. Sorry, Oprah. There’s a bigger picture here, one that men and women must adhere to. (Men who abuse women will not be excused in the next life, that is certain. Even if justice isn’t served on Earth, it will be in heaven.)
The God of the Bible is the only god who cares about our welfare – on Earth as well as in the next life. That’s why we should look at this issue now, before we reach our deathbed.
God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners, Christ died for us.
We don’t have to follow a list of rules before God will accept us. He takes us just as we are. Christians aren’t perfect people – far from it. We don’t have our act together, necessarily.
What makes us different?
We are forgiven. That’s all.
If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
That’s it. There’s no magic formula or ritual that must be followed.
Of course, living that out isn’t easy. That’s why we attend church every week, and why we should participate in Sunday school or a small group for support and encouragement. It’s why we should read the Bible often – every day, if possible – to learn what’s in there.
Even Bible scholars, which I am not, have plenty of things to learn about God.
Does that turn you off?
It should excite you.
God is bigger than we can possibly imagine. At the same time, He is smaller than the tiniest detail of our lives.
He cares. To the point of death. His death. Our deaths.
His life. And our lives.
Am I weak or ignorant if I say that there are things I know about God, but there’s plenty I don’t know?
“Salvation” is knowable. That’s one thing we can be certain about.
Why does God save some and not others? That we will never know on this Earth.
All of us are sinners. No one deserves “salvation.” No one earns it.
Why God saves some, why He shows mercy, proves that He loves us and wants the best for us.
Instead of asking why bad things happen to good people, we should ask:
Why do good things happen to bad people?
All of us, every single one of us, is “bad.” You can find fault with me rather easily, and a few of you do. I could find fault with you as well if I wanted to look at you that way.
How do we break that cycle?
Only by following God’s example.
He sees the good in each of us, and wants to draw that out. He offers “salvation” as a gift.
But it’s not a gift until we accept it.
I can offer you a Christmas present, but if you return it to the store, you’ve rejected it. So, it’s not a gift.
God doesn’t do that. He offers us “salvation” even though we don’t deserve it.
Then, we spend the rest of our lives getting to know Him better.
It’s worth the effort.