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If you had one day remaining in this life, what would you do?

Many butterflies live less than a month. Most adult mayflies live for less than 24 hours, and in that short time their sole aim and purpose is to breed, to pass on their DNA to a new generation. If, growing up, we knew we would have one day as an adult, what would that day consist of? Making the most of family? A self-indulgent escapade? Communicating one’s briefly accumulated wisdom and musings to the next generation? A desperate reaching out to some divine being in the hope that this one, precious day was not all there was?

The above musings may seem foolish and irrelevant. After all, humans generally live a lot longer than one day, and we assume that a reasonable lifespan is our right. We mourn the loss of someone in their prime; it is unnatural, unfair for someone to be denied their 70 years (or more). We forget that our not-too-distant ancestors of the middle ages or more ancient times would have been pleased with a life span of 30 or 40 years, if at least one child lived to adulthood. But what is even seventy years in the span of eternity? The Bible observes,

“As for humankind, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”(1)

“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (2)

“O Lord, what is a human, that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Humans are like a breath; their days are like a passing shadow” (3)

Consider this; archaeological evidence suggests that human civilizations of the Ancient Near East arose about 5500 years ago. There is evidence of indigenous Australian culture up to 60 000 years ago. Geological evidence assigns an age to the earth of about 4.5 billion years. When we start to think in these time frames, our 70 years of life and contribution to the greater story begin to seem insignificant. The Psalmist, considering how God presided over eternity, observed “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” (4) Even if we were to live to over a hundred, become as rich as Bill Gates, as influential as Shakespeare or Alexander the Great or Franklin D. Roosevelt or the Beatles, or if we live a short life in relative poverty, obscurity, even misery; we are all still like grass, shadows, dust. “Even though [we] should live a thousand years twice over... do not all go to the one place?” (5) This is true, the Bible notes, even of the wicked who seem to prevail in this life, and of the rich, who seem to have endless resources. Jesus told a parable of a rich fool who put all his efforts into accumulating riches for himself so he could enjoy the remainder of his life, only to suddenly drop dead! (6)

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (7)

We don’t have long, the Bible reminds us. We can spend our days on ourselves, if we are so privileged. We can try to leave a positive legacy for humanity, to make the world a better place, which is admirable. Or our life may be a continual struggle for existence, our only legacy our DNA.

But what if, just supposing, perhaps, maybe.... what if this life is not all there is? What if eternity IS within our grasp? This is something we are designed to think about; we are not meant to be preoccupied solely with this life. “God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into people’s hearts, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (8)

Let’s try to capture some of this eternal perspective. Imagine that your life is as long as this little dash – about 1 mm; a let’s be generous and call it 100 years. Mesopotamian civilisation would have commenced about 55 mm ago, as long as a bite-sized morsel of food. The indigenous Australians made their first rock paintings about 600 mm ago, less than a metre, just a single footstep. The earth, formless and void, began about 450 km away. This line of 100 year dashes represents 100 lifetimes, or 10 000 years.


Imagine now an A4 page of such lines of dashes. With single spaced type, size 11 font, about 60 lines can be fitted onto on A4 page. It would take 4500 lines to equate to the age of the earth, so that full page is about 1/75 the age of the earth. Yet even the age of the earth is itself an immeasurable fraction of eternity.

If you had to endure one day of suffering, or had one day to complete an onerous task, or one day of intensive study, in order to achieve, say, a year of recreation, you’d probably do it. People gamble every day on things like this, when they pay a few dollars for a lottery ticket, in the hope of winning a small fortune. People study for several years at university in the hope of attaining a degree which will open up job prospects that will lead to a few decades of comfortable, fulfilling and enjoyable life. People invest in their working lives for the twenty or so years of their retirement. Seen in that perspective, what if this life, these precious few decades, was not all there was, but a preparation for eternity? What if an investment in this short life determined your destiny for not just decades or centuries or millennia to come but for ever? Wouldn’t that be worth considering our lives in context? What if that one dash – carried the weight of destiny not just for a line of dashes, or an A4 page of dashes, or a sheaf of 500 A4 sheets, or a warehouse full of cartons of A4 sheets....?

The Bible talks about our destiny in eternity in terms of “salvation,” salvation from eternal destruction. Salvation for eternal life, a life that is not encumbered by the trials, sufferings, frustrations and boredoms of this life, but life the way it was intended to be, life as designed for us by our Creator. What must we do, then, with our lives, in order to be secure for eternity? In order to “be saved?” It’s not what you might think.

When Peter, one of Jesus’ close friends, wrote, “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass; the grass withers and the flower falls,” he went on to contrast our fleeting mortal lives with “But the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news (Gospel) that was preached to you.” (9) This the “Gospel,” the good news that death is not the end because even though we deserve death for our rejection of our Maker, in his grace he sent his Son to bear our death-worthy sins and destroy them, allowing us to share in his eternal, indestructible life.

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (10)

  • I, Jesus, give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (11)

The Gospel’s “foolish” extraordinary, awesome promise, in the words of the One whose word endures for eternity, is that Eternity is ours if we believe in the one whom he has sent. Given the perspective of eternity, and the lengths to which we would go to secure a mere 70 years, isn’t it worth giving some thought to this, while we still have time?

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Do you believe this?" (12)



1. Psalm 103 verses 15–16

2. Genesis 3 verse 19

3. Psalm 144 verses 3–4

4. Psalm 90 verse 4

5. Ecclesiastes 6 verse 6

6. Luke 12 verse 15 –21

7. Psalm 39 verses 3–4

8. Ecclesiastes 3 verse 11

9. 1st Peter 1 verse 24–25

10. John 3 verse16

11. John 10 verse 28

12. John 11 verses 25 –26

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