Summary: A look at how we would live if we knew that our life was about to end. This was a message for the first Sunday of the New Year
Having grown up in the Maritimes and spending most of my teens years around boats and ships of one description or another I am fairly familiar with fog, especially when you consider my formative years were spent in Saint John or as we fondly remember it CFBC, Canada’s Fog Bound City. And some fog was thick and permanent, you felt like you were inside a room full of cotton batten, it was dreary and imprisoned you in its damp embrace. But there was also a light hazy fog that often times the sun was shining above it and you knew that it had no future, that before the day was very old the fog would be gone and its memory would be as nebulous as the fog itself.
And it was that type of fog that James, the brother of Christ, used as an analogy for our lives in the letter that he wrote two thousand years. That letter has been preserved as a part of our New Testament and it was read earlier in particular we are looking at James 4:14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
Shakespeare obviously felt the same about the fleeting nature of life because he wrote: Life… It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury; signifying nothing. And if that wasn’t enough in another of the Bard’s plays he penned, Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.
Most of us don’t dwell on how short life might be, in fact most of us we view our lives with more permanence and very seldom even think about our future demise. And according to the Social Security Actuarial Period Life Table, it seems the longer you live, the longer you live.
At my present age it is projected that my life expectancy will be an additional 24 years. If I actually make it to 81 years old the actuarial table projects that my life expectancy will be an additional 7.76 years, which means there is a pretty good chance I will die Sept 21 2049 at around 2 in the afternoon. But if I live to be 89 years old, my life expectancy is projected to be 4 additional years. If I live to be 93, I may then live to be 96 years of age where I am granted the possibility of an additional 2.66 years. At almost 100 they give me another 2.27years which will get me up over the hundred mark and at that point I am given an even chance of living until I am 103 and from there they give me another 1.83 years. Even if I live to be 119 years old, I am granted an additional .57 year of life expectancy.
However, eventually the actuarial table runs out of years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds of life expectancy. In other words, I am terminal. We are all terminal. Apart from the Second Coming of Christ in one’s lifetime, the death rate is 100%. (Actuarial table illustration courtesy of Monty Newton, Heritage Community Bible Church) I saw a sign in a doctor’s office years ago that said and I quote “Don’t take life too serious, you’ll never get out of it alive.”
But what if you knew that your death was imminent? What if you were told for sure that you had X amount of years, months or days left? Would your behaviour change?