Spurgeon was once preaching on eternal life, and he caught the eye of a godly woman sitting near the front. She had been in his church many years, and Spurgeon knew her faith was strong. There was some special gleam in her eye today; Spurgeon couldn’t be certain what it meant, but preachers draw power and encouragement from attentive faces. He caught her eye repeatedly as he preached on paradise—until a certain possibility occurred to him. Spurgeon paused in his preaching and asked the man beside this woman to check her wrist for a pulse. She had none. The woman had gone on to the next life with the gleam of heaven already present in her eye.
In her case, everyone was able to praise God for the assurance of her salvation and the peaceful and appropriate manner of her death. But what about you? What unfinished business do you have? Are you counting on the next day, the next month, the next year without really being certain if such things will be available?
Tomorrow is an uncertain proposition. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). The Bible makes this point on several occasions. Only today has been placed in your hands; God set you in time. He locked you into the present to cut you off from the past and the future. The Bible employs eighteen different metaphors to remind us of the brevity and uncertainty of life. It’s like a vapor, for example, appearing for a moment before dissolving forever. You planned a picnic for tomorrow, and it rained. You expected to pay your bills tomorrow, and your child became ill. Tomorrow you’ll start that diet; tomorrow you’ll spend time with God; tomorrow you’ll call your grandparents. Let’s pause with that one.
Have you ever wished you had just a piece of yesterday back—just a tiny piece—to speak one more time to someone who passed away? Are there things you wish you had said to your departed parents? A brother or sister you’ve lost? An affectionate grandmother you never thanked? A question you’d like to ask?
If you pile up enough tomorrows, you end up with a lot of empty yesterdays.
James was one of the three men who slept in the garden while Jesus agonized on the night of His passion. After Jesus’ ascension, James knew what it meant to lose the most important person in the world—to long to say, in the flesh, the things that went unsaid. He lived to write a letter about the Christian life. Perhaps the most urgent of all the epistles, it efficiently contains one command for every two verses. Included in James’s wise counsel is this:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:13–14)
Tomorrow, James is telling us, is the most deadly word in the Bible. It is lazy. It is presumptuous. It is reckless. The word God prefers is today. Hebrews 3:13 warns us that we’d better exhort one another “while it is called ‘Today,’ ” before sin hardens the heart. It happened to Felix. It can happen to you.
David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life (Nashville, TN: W Pub., 2001), 164–165.
This article excerpted from Slaying the Giants in Your Life.
This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.