Technically, we are immortal until we die.
It's a way of thinking that makes people believe they can do anything, accomplish anything, and dream big. We all feel indestructible. When hanging out with a group of friends, nobody looks at each other and thinks, "In ninety years, every single one of us will be dead." No one likes to think about that. So usually, they don't.
Then they break their neck. Then they get diagnosed with cancer. Then they're best friend is killed. Then they think about death. They think about it, because it becomes real. And then the massive question looms a little closer overhead: "How much time do I have left?"
Death is not really a normal fear. No one knows what it will be like, but it is obviously something inevitable. So, until that "distant" day when we breathe our last, we live like we will never die, because that's the way things seem.
I took a quick little quiz that estimates how much longer I have left, assuming that I will die naturally. It's as unscientific as I'll get out and reeks of bogus algorithms, but I'm not interested in precision. I have 76 years left, according to this simple Life Clock. It estimated that I will live until the ripe old age of 92.
Though it quickens my heart rate slightly to see that number, it really doesn't bother me. 76 years is a long time. Long enough, in fact, to see many of my loved ones pass away. 76 years is more than quadruple the length of the life I have lived so far. 76 is far away. Or so it seems.
My life could actually only have 5 years left to it. It could have 5 days. And though that may seem like a morbid thought, it's true. Think about the people you pass by every day. Their life could be stretching on beyond sight, or that could've been the last time you ever passed them by. Life is a God-given thing, and He can take it away. He has every right to, and certainly the power to do so.
I have been thinking a lot about Jesus' crucifixion- Easter coming up so quickly, and all. I have been thinking about the two thieves on the crosses beside Jesus'. They knew that their lives were soon to be terminated. Imagine the fear. The regret. The anguish. The pain. As they waited in their cells to be tortured, I can imagine that they were going through all the words they had said, the lives they had taken, and the people they had harmed. Had it been worth it? As they were flogged and nailed to pieces of wood, I highly doubt that they were ready to die peacefully.
These men knew death, because it was right on their doorstep. They could practically taste it. Jesus could, too. All three men were breathing their final breaths, yet they all had different outlooks.
For the one criminal, he was angry and thought that it was too late to do anything about where he was now. His life was through, and he gave up. He joined in with the mockers who assailed Jesus with taunts. With pain stabbing through his palms and feet and every wound on his weak body, death seemed too real and too powerful for Jesus to conquer. Putting his trust in someone who was dying right next to him didn't seem like an option.
For the second criminal, he also knew that death was just minutes away. He felt himself struggling for breath, and for life. However, he also saw the man beside Him, the man who could forgive him. He didn't want to die with such guilt, shame, and regret. Although he had to die on a cross, he needed to go with a hope. And so he shouted to the first criminal:
Luke 23:40-43 - "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? "And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."
Stronger, even, than the pain that stung in every inch of his body, was the relief and hope that must have flooded this man's heart. For the first time, He was secure. Secure. It's an odd thing to be when you are tethered to a cross with nails through your limbs and blood gushing out of dozens of deep lashes.
I want to be like that thief. I am no better than he was. The smallest speck of sin is enough to keep someone out of heaven, so on that scale, he and I are very much alike. Our sentences should be identical: Hell.
I am not being crucified any time soon, and for now, I feel safe and comfortable. I feel like death is millions of years away from me, and it could possibly never come... but it will. Though it sounds like a depressing way of thinking, I want to live in that reality. I want to be like the thief who knew that he was doomed and understood that he was a sinner. He saw that his only hope was to put his trust in the grace of Jesus.
In my life right now, as I am sure is similar in yours, Jesus doesn't truly seem like the only hope I have. I know that He is, but it isn't a truth that I completely grasp. I tend to act like friends are my hope and my future. My grades are what give me a purpose. Success in my endeavours is what drives me.
I want to turn myself inside-out and become the thief. I don't want to steal, but I want to be exposed. If all these things of mine were stripped away, I would be much more like the criminal on the cross- left to die without my friends, talents, ambitions, and family who I have based my life around. Then, maybe I would see that there is only one hope, and that is in Christ. If I were nailed to a tree, naked and beaten, maybe then I would realize that all of the things that I'd devoted myself to were NOT WORTH IT. But Jesus is. He is worth it and He is mighty to save.
Zephaniah 3:17 - The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.
Living a life of hypocrisy and self-righteousness is the way to destruction. It is the path of the Pharisees. I'll admit that I am definitely guilty of hypocrisy, but I am praying that God will humble me and show me that pride is disgusting in His eyes. Notice that it was the lying, cheating, murdering, stealing, backstabbing, treacherous criminal to whom God said: "Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise!"
A life of confession and repentance is what God desires, not one of outward cleanliness and inward evil.
76 years of confession and repentance? Sounds good to me.