When What If Becomes What Is

Dr. Randy Pausch was selected among top academics in the U.S. to deliver the 2007 lecture for the “Last Lecture” series at Carnegie Mellon University. Each year a top man in the teaching field is selected to lecture. Suppose that this was to be his last lecture. What would he say? What information that deeply matters to him would he wish to impart? This is really not all that unusual. Most preachers have delivered sermons they called, “If This Were My Last Sermon.” However, in the case of Dr. Pausch there was a tragic irony. He prepared and delivered the lecture allright. But before the date came for the delivery, Dr. Pausch was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer and told that he had six months to live! The irony of these facts caught the attention of the world!!!

The brevity of life, the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of when death will come are subjects that are often dwelt upon in the scriptures. In the last part of I Samuel 16 Agag, the Amalekite King said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past” just instants before Samuel, the prophet and priest, “hewed Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.”

The New Testament writers also convey the same lesson of the brevity of life and the uncertainty of it. Paul said, “Redeem the time because the days are evil” in Ephesians 3:16 to impress upon us the need to take full advantage of every moment and make up for lost time. And in Romans 13:11 he said, “…now it is high time to awake out of our sleep: For now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.” And the same apostle says in II Corinthians 6:2 “For He (God) saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I accepted thee: behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

It is not received very thoughtfully for us to be reminded that every day should be lived as if it were our last. And yet we know that there will be a last day for each of us. A young lady in her early twenties was asked on T.V., “What do you expect to do when you are in your thirties?” She replied, “Why, I don’t even think about that!” She was living for the day and even the possibility of death was remote. But she was positive in her own mind that she would still be alive and active. A sixty-year-old man said, “I figure I’ve got twenty more good years!” But does he?

The only way to be sure we can stand before God in judgment in an acceptable manner is to try to live each day, and even each moment, as if it were our last. There will come a day when “What if?” becomes “What is.” And when that time comes it will be too late to do any thing about preparation.

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