As I was listening to a radio program a few days ago, a statement was made about a man who is in his mid-twenties. The young gentleman being discussed is a public figure who has made a number of bad decisions and has paid a high price for them. One of

the people talking about the younger fellow said he wishes the young man well, saying, “Look, he still has his whole life ahead of him.” He went on to observe that the guy still has a chance to get married, have children, and live a fulfilling life. Maybe, maybe not.

Here is a dose of reality. I am writing these words exactly two days after a gunman murdered seventeen students in a school in Florida. Before that occurred, do you know what many of the students of that school (most likely between the ages of fifteen and eighteen) probably were thinking? “I still have my whole life ahead of me.” Many young folks have such a mentality. And, the statistics show that the great majority of them still have several decades to live on the earth. There are exceptions, though, are there not?

No human still has his/her “whole life” ahead of them. Part of our life is in the past. What we should say is this: we each have the rest of our lives. How long will that be for each of us? For some it may be five minutes, for another five weeks, for another five years, and for a fourth it could be five decades or more. The truth is, we just do not know, do we?

Schools offer courses in “Career Planning” and

school counselors give guidance to students about choosing universities, vocational schools, and occupational opportunities. All of that guidance is with this thought in mind: “You still have a future, so you want to plan well for it.” A future, yes, but not a future whose duration can be predicted or controlled.

Life is uncertain, my friend. Some who leave their homes this morning to go to work will never make it to the work place, their lives being snuffed out in a traffic accident. Others who begin the day with excellent physical health will fall prey to disease and not survive the week. On the other hand, some who today are ninety years old and feeble may still be around to celebrate their one-hundredth birthday in another ten years. Life is so unpredictable, is it not?

The Bible says, “. . . whereas you do not know

what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:14). In fact, we do not know what will happen ten seconds from now! There are no guarantees of another breath. In the rest of the verse quoted above, it is written, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for

a little time and then vanishes away.” Who can deny it?!

We further read, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). We discuss tomorrow, we plan for tomorrow, we make provisions for tomorrow, and we may wait impatiently for the next day’s activities. Yet, in all of our discussing, planning, providing, and waiting with anticipation, let us keep in mind that all of that depends on, “If the Lord wills” (James 4:15).

In the book of Job, we find multiple references to life’s uncertainty and brevity. For instance, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope” (Job 7:6). Again, “Now my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good. They pass by like swift ships, like an eagle swooping on its prey” (Job 9:25). Consider one final message from Job: “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue” (Job 14:1,2).

Think about those images noted in the passages quoted above: a weaver’s shuttle, a runner, swift ships, an eagle swooping down, a flower, and a

shadow. Collectively, what do all of these impress on our mind? Would it not be that life seems to pass “in a hurry?” Would it not be that life is temporary? Would it not be that the duration of life is uncertain?

In an effort to transition in a conversation to more spiritual-oriented matters, on a number of occasions I have asked this direct question to an individual: “How long do you expect to live on the earth?” Some may give an estimate, but many acknowledge what we all know is true: “I am not sure.” That is exactly right. When it comes to life expectancy, there may be data and statistics, but there are no guarantees.

Our eternal spirit will live somewhere forever. Our number one objective in life ought to be to prepare ourselves for eternity, not count our birthdays.

— Roger D. Campbell