Change of Plans
Psalm 90:12 – So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
This week I turned 45.
I planned on sharing tidbits about what I have learned over the course of 45 years. It had all the ear-markings of my shortest post ever.
But then reality hit home and I was reminded on one thing that I have learned…we all have a change of plans.
As a single guy (for the next 36 days), my birthday started as pretty much any other single guy’s birthday. You wake up.
But I was reminded of something today.
A good friend of mine didn’t wake up. At least not in the human sense of the word.
A good friend of mine, and an elder in the church I attend, went home to be with the Lord a few days ago.
Tonight, I attended his viewing. Tomorrow I will attend his funeral.
I haven’t known him for too long, maybe a couple years at most. But Eric had a vibrancy to him and a calm demeanor that was infectious. He was quick with a smile and filled with wise words.I am blessed to be able to call him friend.
But tonight as I was entering the church and everyone I knew was wishing me happy birthday, I was reminded that we don’t have an eternity to make the choice.
If you believe much of humanity, you believe that there is no afterlife, and, that once you are in the dirt, that is the end of you.
Matthew 25:46 – And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
To me, that simplifies life way too much when I know that there must be a billion things that go right in our universe every day just so you can take your next breath. There must be something more.
This week is a great example of that.
I don’t believe in coincidences. And this week was filled with what the world would call coincidences.
At the beginning of the week, I was blessed by my church to be able to attend a conference for pastors and church and leaders. In it, there were back to back presentations on the eternal aspect of our lives.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The first presentation, by Charles Nieman, explained something that I knew from studying my Bible, but never really grasped until he discussed it in further detail. He explained that this life is simply a continuation of the John 3:16 life. We think of death here in terms of ending and eternal life in terms of beginning. But that isn’t it at all. This life is simply part of the greater whole. Death is not the end of this life or the beginning of the next. It is, if can be so crass to use worldly terms here, the evolution of man into the eternal. It is our next step in our humanity. Not the end of it. Not the beginning of something else. It is the continuation of it.
Jeremiah 1:5 – Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations
Jesus knew us before we were even born. This means we existed even before we were in the womb. This short life here is simply part of the greater plan.
The next presentation was by a man named Dale A. O’Shields. He shared a visual that showed the three aspects of our humanity: Spirit, Soul and Body. The spirit is that inner core of your being that is sensitive to God. This is what we humans like to call our conscience. The body is the physical shell that covers the soul.
It is the soul that defines us. This is made up of our mind, our will, and our emotions.
When put together with the first presentation, the eternality of the soul (past, present, and future) combined with the second presentation, the definition of the soul (as what defines our character), shows us a more complete picture of this humanity.
Fast forward to Wednesday when I learned that an outreach we did through the young adult group I help lead touched the lives of 500-600 people over a 4-day period. Those were souls, at very similar points in their eternal timelines, who were provided physical needs in order to have their souls refreshed. And hopefully it will reap spiritual rewards in their lives.
And then today happened, where I was able to see my friend one final time. Where I learned that this beautiful man of God had finished his race strong and was simply moving on to the next stage in eternity.
2 Corinthians 5:1 – For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
But it put my past 45 years in perspective. What would have happened if I would not have waited until I was almost 40 to surrender complete control of my life to God? How many more souls could have been affected? What would it look like to Christ if my eternal pace was quickened 20 years ago and not 5.
None of us know what kind of time we have left on this planet in this physical form but one thing is for sure: we need to spend our time trying to figure it out.
That is called discipleship.
If you are not a Christian, I would like to urge you to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a Christian but feel weighed down by the world and don’t know what your next step should be to get closer to God, use that same email address. I would like to speak with you.
As long as you take that first step, Christ will run toward you the rest of the way.
1 John 3:18 – Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.