Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)
One of the most fascinating stories in scriptures is the story of the rich man and Lazarus; Luke 16:19; the story has Jesus describing what happened to two men. The rich man was wealthy and practically throwing parties every day and the poor man Lazarus who sat at the gates of the rich man. Once in a while food crumbs from the rich man’s table will be given to the poor man. The poor man had sores on his body and sometimes dogs will come to lick the sores. The interesting part of the story is that both men died ultimately; which is the one sure appointment everyman has to keep. The next interesting part of the story is that their lives continued after they died.
This is the point that is of interest to us today. After Lazarus’s death angels carried him to Abraham’s bosom but the rich man found himself in Hades (or hell) after he died. Interestingly, the rich man lifted his eyes and saw Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom and he spoke to Abraham to send Lazarus to deep his finger in water for just a drop of water to quench the thirst of the rich man howbeit temporarily because of the torment of the extreme thirst he was experiencing. Abraham responded that there was a great gulf between them and neither of them could crossover to meet each other. With this realization, the rich man requested that someone should be sent to his brothers so that they don’t come to this place of torment. A few lessons that could be gleaned from here is that the two men recognized themselves after death; meaning their memories were intact. The rich man realized that his life on earth was a preparation for his life after death. He also realized that he had made the wrong choices and at that point, having had a tremendous influence on his brothers, he knew his brothers were not making the right decisions and that the life they were living will qualify them for the same experience he found himself ultimately after death.
Dr Edward Banfield and others after decades of research decided that the greatest determinant of success is one’s attitude to time; those with long-term perspectives succeed better than those engaged in short-term thinking. They found that long-term thinking improves short-term decision making. From here they derived one of the laws of success called the law of time perspective. This simply holds that the longer the time you take into consideration, the more accurate and the better your decisions are and the more successful you are; the higher you rise. In our world, the person thinking 30 years will always rise higher than the person thinking 30 days. The Christian has a phenomenal opportunity here because we see beyond the point of death. 1 Corinthians 15:19; shows that Christ affects our lives not only in this life but for eternity.
When we explore eternity, we realize God has given us the capacity to think beyond time. Why does death frustrate us and why do we feel sad at it? This is simply because we are designed to live forever; God literarily cut Man out of Himself and God is indestructible and eternal hence, there is a dimension to us that is eternal which is our spirits. Our physical bodies may have expiry dates but not our spirits. The spirit of man came from the dimension of timelessness. Hence, the more you factor eternity into your decision making, the more accurate your decisions will be. You’ll make the most of your time here if you factor eternity into your thinking. The same way we spent 9 months in the womb preparing for this life is similar to what our whole lives are with respect to eternity. Thinking in the light of eternity will shape your values and impact your behaviour. Some things that may appear very important now may pale into insignificance when we stretch our thought of them into eternity. Conversely, somethings that we may not have taken seriously, we’ll take seriously in the light of eternity. When you think about how you want to live at your old age, it will impact on things such as the career you choose and the money that you earn now. Knowing that getting to eternity is a point of no return will significantly alter how you live your life now especially because most people don’t get to choose the day they’ll die. Matthew 6:19-21, has Jesus admonishing to invest our lives more for eternity than right here and now. The things that we do now have eternal consequences. We will be experiencing the consequences of some of our decisions for millions of years and we have this at the back of our minds as God wants us to, we’ll take measured steps in this planet. It will become important to you whether you love people or not, what you do with your money, whether your relationship with God is ok or not. The point is, whatever your relationship is with God at the point you transit into eternity is how it is going to remain for eternity.
Those that think death is final and that there is no life after this, find this freedom to live their lives anyhow they want to live it and they want to maximize this freedom for the short period it is envisaged. Some ask where is the proof that life exists after death? As Christians, we have someone in the person of Christ who died and came back from death and we can believe anything He says about life and death. Other than this, we can use simple logic and find it better to assume there is life after death and to die to find out there is none than assuming there isn’t but then die to find out there is. When you recognize the reality of eternity, you’ll lose your fear of death because death takes on a different meaning. Hence, our grieving over death should be short knowing that this isn’t the end of everything.
For the Christian, the death day is equally a birthday into eternity. Now the question is, are you leveraging your short life here to prepare for a great life in eternity? What will you stop doing now? What will you start to do now? These are important questions to hold in our minds to think and pray about. My prayer is that no life exposed to this reality will end up a waste.