“I’m not smart; I’m observant.”
This is something I actually say. I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I do pay attention. Often this statement is made in the context of predicting what is going to happen in a certain situation. Whether or not I’m accurate is a subject of another time.
And to a greater or lesser degree, we all do this. We try to do the impossible: predict the future. We’re not the first. In his wisdom, King Solomon had a great perspective on human behavior and his predictions were probably fairly accurate. But for all that wisdom and perspective, he writes in Ecclesiastes 8:7-8:
7 Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come? 8 As no one has power over the wind to contain it, so no one has power over the time of their death. As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.
Blindness to the future doesn’t stop us from trying to predict it. From politics to human behavior, the weather to financial planning, we all try to do the impossible: predict the future with certainty. Intellectually, we know this is impossible and yet we try.
At best, our approach to the future is an educated guess. We pull together experience, data, research, historical patterns, and make predictions based on all the information we can amass. But at the end of it all, we don’t know what’s going to happen.
How many times have we experienced a downturn in the economy that seemingly no one has been talking about? For all the time experts spend looking at the economy, we are rarely warned when the bottom is going to fall out.
If we can’t predict that with one hundred percent accuracy, how can we predict the day of our death? We can’t and that’s Solomon’s point. Echoing this truth are the words of Jesus’ half-brother James, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14 NIV).
Knowing the uncertainty of the number of our days, we must live in light of eternity. Our days here are so brief, but our eternal days are…well, forever. We have a lot longer in eternity than here.
We are powerless to prolong our lives one minute longer than God has decreed and we cannot shorten it beyond what He dictates its length to be. This makes life uncertain. And yet, there is certainty in our destinations.
With God’s gift of grace through Jesus in our lives, our future is certain: Heaven with Him. Apart from God’s gift of grace through Jesus in our lives, our future is also certain: Hell without Him. With the brevity of our lives before us and the vastness of the “time” after our time is through, it seems we should spend much more time considering the implications of our “after life” more.
How do we do this? I suggest using the acrostic S.I.P.S.
- Sing – Singing the songs of our Lord keep our perspective on our mission because it keeps our eyes on our God.
- Investigate – Dig into the word and learn more about how this life affects the next. Until we apply ourselves to the word, we will never be able to apply the word to our lives.
- Pray – We just don’t do this often enough. There is such a power released in our lives when we touch heaven with our prayers. Pray and pray often!
- Stay – This is the hardest one of all. We want to check off the to-do list of our personal worship time and get on with the day. Yet, we can gain so much in Him when we simply stay still and bask in the radiance of His love, grace, mercy, and power.
Be observant. This universe exists because of the Lord God Almighty. We move because He is the breath in our lungs. Gain better perspective and make your predictions eternally more accurate: we are great sinners in need of a great Savior.