Sometimes a dream seems so real. We interact with people and situations in our dream that may parallel what we are currently experiencing in our lives, or the dream may be a nightmare arising from our worst fears. When we awake with a jolt, we're grateful that it was only a dream.
Someday our life on earth will end and we will wake up in eternity. This present life will seem to have been just a dream (Psalm 73:20). Although now our life seems so real, it will no longer be part of our eternal reality.
James says it best in his epistle: "You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14).*
In Luke 12:16-21 Jesus tells the Parable of the Rich Fool. The rich man had a plentiful crop. In fact, he didn't have enough room to store it all. Instead of being grateful to God for his blessings and sharing his abundance with others, he was concerned about storing it all up for himself. He planned to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. He said to himself, "'You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'" (vv. 19-20).
Then Jesus added, "'This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God'" (v. 21).
A person's life "does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (v. 15). Material things can never satisfy the human soul. Some have great wealth but poverty-stricken souls. That is a sad existence indeed, for things will pass away, but the human soul is eternal.
James cautions against boasting about our plans for tomorrow. "Listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' . . . Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that'" (James 4:13,15). He reminds us that anyone "who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins" (v. 16).
When we choose to live our lives our way, instead of God's way, we sacrifice our eternal future for a temporary meaningless existence; we give up a life of eternal significance for what will someday vanish. Peter says that "all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever'" (1 Peter 1:24-25). James exhorts us to submit ourselves to God, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6-7).
No matter how long our life span may be, it is nothing when compared with eternity. In fact, when you think about it, no mathematical system in the world could calculate the significance of a human life span when compared to eternity. Peter says, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" (2 Peter 3:8).
Since everything will someday pass away, what kind of lives should we live?
We must make certain things are right between us and God. When we humbly repent of our sins and accept God's gracious gift of salvation we can know without a doubt that we will spend eternity in heaven.
We should not allow ourselves to get caught up in materialism or to focus on attaining status, power, or the praise of others.
We must be prayerful, so that we can grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and be conformed to His likeness.
We must avoid temptation, determining in our hearts not to dabble in anything that would subtly draw us away from loving and relying on our Savior.
We must be watchful, on guard, so that we are not deceived or led astray by false doctrine, personality cults, or the world's values and attitudes.
We must reach out in love toward others, pray for one another, and encourage each other.
If we live our lives God's way, focusing on Him and following His plan for us, then we will be able to say with David, "In righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness" (Psalm 17:15).
© by Howard W. Stevens
* All Scripture verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.