Sunday, August 2, 2009

If Tomorrow Never Comes

My Great Aunt Wilda died recently at the ripe young age of 100. In my one memory of her, my mother and I were alone in the back room of my grandparents’ Michigan house when she just waltzed in an unlocked front door and started banging around in the kitchen—no knock, no phone call to say she was coming over, no “Hey, is anybody home?” We thought she was a burglar…until she started talking to the dogs.

This memory is of a woman whom I deemed eccentric. Independent. Unique.

A long-lived life doesn’t sound as many notes of sadness or as many thoughts of “what could have been.” But the newspaper's obituary page always makes me pause, a reminder that my death is nearer than it was the day before.

Aunt Wilda knew that. She left a stack of already-addressed envelopes, each containing her self-penned obituary, for her son to mail to family and friends across the country. She left the details of what she wanted her funeral to include. She was prepared.

But not everyone is.

For the past two days as I have rocked my sick infant daughter, feeling her fevered body strangely still against mine, I’ve contemplated the tenuous nature of life and the urgency of preparing for the life beyond this one.

I pray for her restored health, but I also realize that while God gave her to me, He has not promised her a lifetime of days on this earth. He has not promised her one breath beyond the one she just took. Likewise, he has not promised that my husband and I will grow old together or that I will even wake tomorrow this side of eternity.

Only God knows the number of our days. David understood this: “LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath” (Ps. 39:4-5).

Even the New Testament warns that all we have is this moment: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

The moment we escape these fleshly bonds, Jesus teaches that where we spend eternity is determined. When death finally comes, nothing more can be added to our life’s record. It will be too late to decide whether we want to be serious about accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, submitting to His commandments. As Scripture says, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27, my italics).

One grain of sand at a time, each person’s hourglass is running out. Are you prepared to meet Jesus?

I’m not.

Yes, I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am actively pursuing righteousness and holiness. I am earnestly seeking to serve Him and obey His commands as taught in Scripture.

But I still have areas of my life I need to work on. And there are too many people I know whom I haven’t shared Jesus with. Too many wandering souls that weigh heavy on my heart and mind.

Even if I live to be a hundred, I don’t believe there will ever be enough time to prepare for the life beyond this one, for that moment when I meet my Jesus face to face. But I try to live knowing that moment could come now or forty years down the road.

This week, seriously contemplate where you are on your journey with the Lord. If you have taken the wide path that leads to destruction and separation from God, as long as your heart still pumps life through your fleshly body, it’s not too late to confess and repent of your sin and wholly devote your heart to Jesus. And if you have chosen the narrow path already, ask yourself if there is anything you would be ashamed to still be doing / not doing if your last grain of sand falls before the week is through.


  1. Jennifer, I appreciate your post! It is timely for everyone who reads. I, too, often share your thoughts of death.

    My father passed away when I was twelve, and his death made a great impression on me. I forever will understand the brevity of life.

    I, also, have much to work on. MUCH! I pray each day for God to completely harnass my life for His glory. I grow impatient with the process. Yet, I know as long as I am striving with my whole heart, and giving God even what I try to cling to, I am doing my best to receive His best. To be His alone.

    Thank you for your prayers for my husband and for your rejoicing with me. I appreciate you, dear friend.

    I will pray for Amelia. I am so sorry she is sick. I know how distressing this is for you. ( I speak with the heart of a mother and grandmother.)

    May the Lord bring you peace and cool her fevered brow. And may He give you strength, divine help, as you minister to Amelia's need.

    Take care of yourself, too. Much love.


  2. Just wanted to reply with a praise--today is the first day in over a week that Amelia hasn't awakened from her nap with 103 fever. It looks like she's finally on the mend. :-) God is good.