Robert Orben grabbed my ears with these entertaining but sobering words: “Don’t smoke too much, eat too much or work too much. We’re all on the road to the grave, but there’s no need to be in the passing lane.” It’s hard not to be in the passing lane these days. The world is in a high-speed hurry. The fast-lane is full and we feel almost forced to be in it or get run over or left behind. The Bible urges us to understand that our days on earth go by quickly, whether we are in a hurry or not. Centuries before Christ, the writer of Psalm 90 (believed by many Bible scholars to be Moses) reminded us God is eternal but that we are time bound. He wrote, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God” (New King James Version). He continues in verses 3-6 – “You [that is, God] turn people back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, you mortals!’ For You, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are all like grass that springs up in the morning. In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered” (New Living Translation). God is outside of time. He does not wear a watch! In contrast, we are being swept along on the swift river of time, helpless to slow it down or stop its rapid rush toward making us older and finally landing us in eternity. The psalmist continues in verse 10 – “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” He reaches this conclusion in verse 12: “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The word to the wise here is to recognize the brevity of life and live according to God’s will.
All of this compels people who have any concern about eternity to ponder and grapple with this question – where are we headed in such a hurry? The Bible and simple observation declare that ultimately we are all headed to a common destination – death. We don’t like to think about it, and we make every effort to hold it at bay. But even if we find it painful and unpleasant to think about, the plain, simple truth is declared in the terse words of Hebrews 9:27, “. . . it is appointed to men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Though many ignore or dismiss them, embedded in that sobering verse are two little words that ought to stop us in our tracks and make us think about how we are living our lives – “after this.” Countless number of people believe that death is the end of the journey, that there is no here-after, and that the here and now is all there is. There will be no judgment. So (as they see it) live fast, be footloose and fancy-free – that is, not committed to anyone or anything, seeking to have no or few responsibilities, free to do as one pleases. So, in the words of R. C. Sproul, “Modern man is betting his life that this is it, and that there is no judgment and that there is no eternity.” The Bible has been belittled, booed, banned, and some seek to bury it – but its message about God and eternity just won’t go away. For each of us, there was something “before this” (that is, before we were conceived and then born and began our journey through life), and common sense and the Bible’s unchangeable message is that it is appointed for us to die and “after this” the judgment. That’s what makes our use of time so critical. Verse 1 of the gospel song “Into Our Hands” says, “Swiftly we’re turning life’s daily pages, Swiftly the hours are changing to years; How are we using God’s golden moments, Shall we reap glory, Shall we reap tears?” The year 2022 will contain 525,600 minutes. Each of them is rushing us along toward the end of the here and now, to that moment when we will leave time and ushered into eternity. Where will you be “after this?” The answer depends, not on how fast you live, but on what road you travel (Matthew 7:13-14). Make sure, my friend, that you get and stay on that road that leads to God “after this!”