Jesus said to the crowds: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from Heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (John 6:37-40)
Jesus made an incredible promise to his disciples and a claim which only God can make and deliver: Whoever sees and believes in Jesus, the Son of God, shall have everlasting life and be raised up at the last day.
The power of those words can not be expressed adequately. The promise of those words has inspired people through two millennia. Eternal life. Life without an ending.
The foundational thought behind those words is one that can easily be remembered. Because if we believe that God has loved us and is loving us now, is it not logical, is it not even expected, that God will continue to love us even after death? If we believe that God has blessed us and is continuing to bless us now, why would we imagine that God would stop blessing us even when our life here comes to an end?
There’s a German proverb which says, “Those who live in Christ will never see each other for the last time.” It is a beautiful thought, isn’t it? I believe that and I know that you do as well.
Believing that should bring us to not just an acceptance of death but also to a way of living.
You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference “remembering death” will make in helping you to “learn how to live.”
It’s already made a huge difference in mine. When I’m having a conversation with someone who really is trying my patience, I say to myself, “Stop, be charitable and patient. This might be the last conversation you ever have. Treasure it.”
If I’m tempted to rush through my prayers, I remind myself, “Stop, you may die within the hour. Pray for all the things you would if you knew this were your last opportunity.” My prayer takes on new meaning.
If I’m tempted to commit a sin, I recall that that deed might be the last thing I ever do, and that if it’s not worth it to gain the whole world if I lost my soul in the process, then surely, it’s not worth it to gain whatever momentary and illusory pleasure that particular sin might bring.
Indeed, if we were to realize that we may in fact die today — for we know not the day or the hour and today is just as likely as five years from now — it would change the whole way we would spend the day.
What would you do if you knew you were going to die today? Would you call up someone and tell that person that you loved them? Then do it. Would you call up someone you’ve hurt and say you’re sorry?
To wake up each morning and live each day as if it were our last is the secret to having life come truly alive, to treasure each moment, each person, each event as a real gift.
Living each day as if it were our last entails only two habits. Sacrifice and thanksgiving. When we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of another, when we give of ourselves in a way that makes a difference in the life of someone else, there is something eternal in our action. When we witness the way that a parent loves his or her child, the way that a child cares for his aging parent, or the way time and energy is spent to correct something that is wrong in our school, neighborhood, or world, those actions are not just for a moment. There is something in that kind of giving that goes on and flows into eternity. Sacrificing for the sake of love is one of the things that matter.
So is thanksgiving. When we truly appreciate what we have received, how we have been blessed, when we see how we have been loved by a spouse, by a friend or by our God, that kind of thankfulness not only humbles us but lifts us up. It is not a feeling for a moment, but it both anticipates and actuates the eternal love of God that will surround us forever. Thanksgiving in its deepest sense is eternal.
When I visit people in the last hours of their lives, they do not focus on the joys and sorrows that have passed long ago. What is important to them is how they have given for the sake of another and how they are loved by their family, by their friends, and by God. These are the things that are important. For those on the very edge of life, sacrifice and thanksgiving are eternal.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, your death and resurrection brought life and hope where there was once only despair and defeat. Give me unwavering faith, unshakeable hope, and the fire of your unquenchable love that I may know you fully and serve you joyfully now and forever in your everlasting kingdom.”
Jesus promises that those who accept him as their Lord and Savior and submit to his word will be raised up to everlasting life with him when he comes again at the close of this age. Is your life securely anchored to the promises of Christ and his kingdom of everlasting peace, joy, and righteousness?