Thursday, December 31, 2015

Just One Year to Live? Part I

New Year's Eve is a time to not only reflect on the past but to also look ahead. We aren't really promised next year, but we can rest in the knowledge that  
the God who was faithful in 2015 will still be faithful in 2016. 

Facing impending death, Bob Whitson planned his funeral. He spoke personally with the men he wanted to be pall bearers, talked to the pastor who would deliver the funeral sermon, chose funeral music, etc. He also requested (and received) permission to have this essay by A.W. Tozer printed in his funeral program.

If I Had Just One Year to Live ...

Suppose that I were to learn that I had just one year to live. The number of my days were to be only 365. What should I do with the precious few days that remained to me?

The first thing is that I would have to arrive at some plan of action in conformity with known facts. I mean the facts of life and death and what God has to say about them in the Bible. However much I might ignore them while the hope of long life lay before me, with that hope shrunk to a brief year, these facts would take on tremendous proportions. With death stalking me, I would have little interest in trivial subjects and would instead be concerned with the essentials. 

Getting Down to Realities

I would stop hoping vaguely that somehow things would come out all right, and I would get down to realities. After all, the Bible says, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Is. 64:6). And "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10). Knowing that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27), I would take not rest until I had absolute assurance on these vital matters.

I would come to God on His own terms. It was Jesus who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). I would not stand on ceremony nor allow myself to be hindered by the niceties of religion. For the Bible says, "Not by works of righteousness with we have done, but according to God's mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5).

Finding Forgiveness from Sins

I would want to know that my sins were forgiven, that I had passed from death unto life, and that Jesus Christ was my personal Savior. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

The Bible goes on to say, "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). He was "delivered up to death for our offences, and was raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25).

I would put away apathy, come boldly to Christ, and throw myself at His feet. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved," the Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (Acts 16:31, John 3:16). I would come believing that God's promise of forgiveness and eternal life includes me.

Facing the Future

Then, a new person in Christ, I would give the last remaining year to God. All the wreckage and loss of the years behind me would spur me on to make the one year before me a God-blessed success.

Now all this would seem to me to be the good and right things to do for one who had just a year to live. But since we do not know whether we have a year before us, or a day or ten days, and since that would be right for the last year would be right for the whole life -- even if its years were many -- then the conclusion is plain. Our cry to God should be, "Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).

I do not know what others may want to do, but I want to get down to business and live as if this year were my last. Then, if God should spare me to a ripe old age, I can depart without regrets.

If you had just one year to live, what would you do?

--A.W. Tozer