It is a wonder that any of us survive on Planet Earth. It only takes a moment’s glance at any of the billions of microcosms around the beautiful blue planet to see that at any moment our life could be over. A walk to the local coffee shop could end with a car accidentally hitting you on the sidewalk living you lifeless. A drive to see grandma in Baltimore may end with a drunk driver hitting and killing you. So many accidents…and yet, most of humanity behaves as if these things are just flukes. How many times have you said, “I’ll do that tomorrow?” How many times have you told a loved one, “We have all the time in the world?”
Do I sound fatalistic? Maybe. Realistic? I would say yes. While we acknowledge that there is a 100% mortality rate in the world (as in, we will all die at some point), we certainly do not behave like it. On a daily basis we mistreat, abuse, and hurt other people without any sense that we destroying our fellow peoplekind (don’t want the feminist coming after me). Perhaps we do not behave like this all the time, but I’m starting to think that this pseudo acknowledgement of eternity/forever is what fuels our behavior often times.
I wonder why we think in terms of forever. How many romantic songs have you heard sang, “We’ll be together forever my darling?” Really? Why? Aren’t we finite beings? According to most non-theist folks, we all die and are going nowhere. History doesn’t seem to support this idea much. Since the beginning of time, people have been talking about forever. The ancients recognized this innate since that we were meant for eternity. Most major religions postulate that after we die we are going somewhere in eternity. Even before I became a follower of Jesus Christ, there was this part of me that refused to believe that this place…earth…that this was it. Logically, I wanted to accept my finiteness, but my heart and my mind rejected the lack of eternity for humanity. The reality is we want forever. We want to know that one day we will meet our lost loved ones in eternity. We want that, but we can’t believe that we could have it. So we give up our heart for eternity and make do with the reward of the temporary.
So what? Who cares if we act like we have forever when in reality we probably only have 50-80 years on the third rock from the sun? Why does this matter? Well, I think if people were more eternal minded we might treat our quest for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a completely different manner. I’m thinking if I lived everyday with the knowledge that I might keel over at any minute, I might not be a workaholic. I probably would visit my family more often, eat more ice cream, smile at people on the subway, share a kind word with those that are struggling, give the homeless all my change, and so many more things.
Not only would I be a kinder version of myself, I probably would be a bit more contemplative. “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” “In light of eternity, will this make my life and others lives better or worse?” “Who is God?” “If he is there, what’s His deal?” “How can I know an invisible God?” “If there is a place such as heaven or paradise, how do I get there?” “Will my good deeds be enough to counter weight my bad deeds?” “Who are Jesus, Buddha, and the Cookie Monster?” “In reference to Jesus, what does he have to do with me?” “If I claim to follow Jesus, how is that apparent in my heart, my mind, my actions, and my life?” “Do I treat people like Jesus would treat them?” “If I don’t support certain political parties, does that nullify my standing with Jesus?” “Is Jesus a Republican or Democrat?” These are just a few questions I have thought about since becoming more eternal minded as opposed to temporally minded. I can’t say I’ve found all the answer, but I have made a decision that I must strive to live in a way that pleases the God that I love and serve. This means: When I want to have a fit on someone, contribute to gossip, or just do something that seems questionable, I find myself asking God more and more what he thinks of these situations. I find that my conversations (some of you call it prayers) with him have increased. I want to treat people with the same kindness and favor that God grants to me on a daily basis. I want to believe that I will see my loved ones again one day. Although my body is literally the equivalent of a deprecating new car, my mind and spirit are appreciating in value day by day through the renewing of my mind by the Lord Jesus. My heart was built for eternity and I am going to live that way. How are you living?
Wonderful post. I think we are unaware of the realistic amount of time peoplekind tend to average on earth just because we don't want to be. It's not fun to think about death and it sucks even more when you know someone who died, especially if they died young. Today is my sister's birthday. She passed away on December 26, 2000. I miss her everyday but I know I will see her again. Still, having someone here one day and gone the next is something you never get over, you can only learn how to live with the change. In this particular situation, I have no death-guilt. We had a great relationship and there wasn't that moment of "oh, if only I had one more day to say....whatever". But if it had been other people in my life who died, people that I was feuding with, I don't know how I would have managed those feelings. Overall I am working on living more at peace with everyone as much as I am able. Romans 12:18. But it really isn't easy to do.
Heather, I am sooo sorry for your loss. No matter how long ago the loss it still feels weird and unsettling. My uncle just died and I keep expecting to hear from him. Death is very sobering...I don't want to walk around with a fatalistic attitude, but I think death gives us perspective on life...
I am living for Christ and to die is gain.
In this world we will have troubles and tribulations, but Christ has overcome the world. John 16:33
Sorry, this is Ruben. Somehow my former roommate got his name on my account.
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