Plan for Tomorrow. Live for Today.
My nephew died yesterday. His wife woke up and found him dead on the living room floor. Heart attack. He was a healthy 41 year old, loved the outdoors, active physically with no history of heart disease. He was a great husband, father of three girls, and most recently a youth pastor. He loved to take his girls hunting and fishing. Everyone is in shock.
When we face death, it is healthy to re-evaluate our own life. What would happen if I died suddenly? Do I know where I will spend eternity, because no matter what you believe, it is forever. If you don’t believe in an afterlife, your non-existence is permanent, forever. If you’re ”spiritual,” you are betting your forever on the whimsical notion that somehow it will all work out. If you think that you are good enough to earn your way to heaven, then once again you are betting your forever on the hope that you are good enough. If you believe in reincarnation, why? If you prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” at a Christian camp or VBS and then lived apart from a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ, you are betting your forever on the hope that that one-time experience earned you a “Get out of hell free” card — with apologies to Monopoly.
No matter what your experience or beliefs, death is permanent, forever. So how do we live in light of our certain death? Jesus has the answer when he says we should be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
Part of being shrewd is planning for the future. Develop personal relationships that will carry you to the end. As far as it is possible, don’t live beyond your means, save for retirement, and live on less than you make. Do whatever is necessary to stay active. I saw a survey this morning about the physical and mental advantages of walking at least 7,000 steps a day. It affects every aspect of who you are in ways that no pharmaceutical drug can match, and it gives you a 50% to 75% chance of a healthier, longer life.
But part of being shrewd is to trust the Lord for the future and not be obsessed with what you have no control over. After all, Jesus says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).
So we are shrewd enough to plan for tomorrow, but our focus must be on living today. Today is the only time you can praise God and pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” You can’t praise him yesterday; yesterday has come and gone. Today, you can’t praise God tomorrow; tomorrow has not yet come. Today is when you walk with God. Today is when we hunt and fish and enjoy our family and friends. Today, we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33) — food, clothing, shelter.
So let’s live for today, enjoy the work and relaxation and relationships we have today, but always living with an eye to the future, because the future is coming and it is permanent.
And here’s the thing about life. It’s never too late to start. You may not be able to reverse the effects of your previous financial decisions, but today you can focus on today. Today, you can build relationships that will carry you into the future. Today, you can walk, even if you use a walker or a cane. And if you are a follower of Christ, today you can enjoy your true brothers and sisters, siblings not necessarily from your family of origin but those with whom you share the same faith and have been adopted into the same family whose father is God.