When we reach the end of the year our thoughts move in two directions at once. We look ahead with great anticipation to what the coming year may have in store for us. We typically do so with optimism and hope that the new year will be better than the last one. At the same time, we look back over what transpired in the year just concluding. We may do so with nostalgia because of the good times we experienced or the good things that occurred. Or, we might do so with sorrow or remorse because of some painful experience we had or some regrettable action we took during the course of the year.
This dichotomy of emotions is present even in our end-of-year celebrations. Many New Year’s Eve gatherings end with the song, “Auld Lang Syne,” which calls to mind days long since passed. Presumably the memory of those days is good, but even so this song tends to evoke feelings of sadness. This may be because we instinctively understand that the past is gone and can never be duplicated. Perhaps we’re made a little sad by this song because the fragile nature of life is so apparent to us. We know that at any moment we may have made our last memory with a loved one.
Without becoming morbid about it, the ending of one year and the promise of a new one should make us stop and reflect for a moment. What if this year, just concluding, is the last one we will experience in life? If we knew that this would be the last time we would see our friends and families, might we do anything differently? Might we take just a little more time with an aged parent or relation? Might we show more patience with a child or teen ager? Would we say, “I love you,” one more time to a wife or husband, son or daughter, or brother or sister in Christ? Would we say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” to someone we’ve hurt, and really mean it? Perhaps we would.
Those who are Christians have hope beyond this life that puts the frailty of life into perspective. We know that it is appointed for us to die and after this comes judgment (Heb. 9:27). We know that once we pass over from life to death there no longer remains any opportunity to change our eternal destiny. As the rich man discovered in Lk. 16:19-31, we know that once we die our soul’s destiny is settled forever, whether for good or for bad. This is why it is so important to obey the gospel by being baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).
The urgency of the gospel is that when the Lord returns, He will do so to deal out retribution to those who do not know God, and to those who do not obey the gospel (2 Th. 1:6-8). If we had an early warning system that could alert us just before the Lord returned, we might wait until just before He came to obey the gospel, but the Lord said no one knows when He is coming again (Mt. 24:36). In the same way that we do not know if today is the last day of our life, we do not know if today is the last day the earth will stand.
The truth is that we may never meet again on this side of death. This being the case, I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without making the plea to be saved. The love of God, and the fear of eternal condemnation, compels me to urge each one to believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), to turn away from sin (Lk. 13:3), to confess your faith in Christ (Mt. 10:32), to be immersed in water in order to be saved (Mk. 16:16), and to live faithfully until death (Rev. 2:10).
If we never meet again, I want you to know that I loved you enough to tell you the truth about your soul’s salvation.
If we never meet again this side of heaven, I hope to meet you there!