The Brevity of Life

by B.J. Clarke

They didn’t even know what hit them. Some years ago, three professional baseball players, out for an evening of enjoyment and relaxation, smashed into a boat dock at a high rate of speed. Steven Olin died instantly. Tim Crews died hours later at the hospital. Both left behind young wives and young children. In a split second the youthful exuberance, earthly hopes, dreams and goals of these two men were snuffed out of existence. The high priced contracts they had signed were meaningless. They didn’t expect to die that night, but they did. He didn’t even know what hit him. He was sitting in his house in California when a large boulder came tumbling down the mountain adjacent to his home. It smashed through the roof of his house and landed on top of him as he was reclining on the couch. He didn’t expect to die that day, but he did.

They didn’t even know what hit them. Their names are recorded on the pages of Sacred Scripture for all to behold. Their lives were put out like a candle in an instant. Who can forget about Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10), the 250 men who offered incense (Num. 16:35), the thousands in the congregation of Israel whose lives were taken by the Lord “as in a moment” (Num. 16:45ff), the Philistines slain at Samson’s death (Judg. 16:29-30), Goliath (1 Sam. 17), Uzzah (2 Sam. 6:6ff), Job’s children (Job 1:18-19), 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (Isa. 37:36), the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:22), Belshazzar (Dan. 5:30), the 18 upon whom the tower of Siloam fell (Luke 13:4), the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21), and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10)?

The aforementioned examples remind us of the need to heed the inspired words of Proverbs 27:1, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Truly, there is but a step between us and death (1 Sam. 20:3). We are just a heartbeat away from eternity. We know not the day of our death (Gen. 27:2).

While it is true that God does not miraculously extinguish life today, and whereas we may never die suddenly and without warning, life is still very, very brief. James wrote, “Go to now, ye that say Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away” (James 4:13-14). The Psalmist declared that we spend our years, as a tale that is told. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psa. 90:9-10). “Man is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and is cut down. He flees like a shadow and does not continue” (Job 14:1-2).

I do not expect to die today, but I might. So might you. That being the case, we must number our days that we apply our hearts unto wisdom (Psa. 90:12). We must redeem the time by being prepared at all times for the day of our death (Eph. 5:16). You are not ready to live until you are ready to die! Are you ready?

Source: Baldwin church of Christ Bulletin, 3 May 2009