It’s not like it happens overnight. More like over nights. Time slips by, quietly at first, but gradually, sneakily advancing- until the loathsome reality can no longer be denied.
Time not only waits for no man, but callously insists on taking every man with it. And we are careening toward a sure and unwavering destination: Death. And then what?
Tedious days, carefree days. Anxious nights preparing for finals, followed by exhausted nights pacing with newborns, exhilarating evenings at summer camp, then suddenly, wearisome afternoons at the kitchen sink facing mounds and mounds of dishes. My days have blurred so swiftly past, it’s positively terrifying. And I’m only 35. But surely not— wasn’t it just last year that I was 25?
Ever since the smartphone sabotaged humanity, I feel like my brain has been filled with cobwebs. Deep in the corners of my subconscious, I can piece together fragments. Lightning bugs. Horses. Basketball. Shakespeare. Politics. Love. Babies. Lots of babies! Inconsequential, unnoticed moments that add up to my life. But what am I living for? What is the chief end of man?
Now we find ourselves in unprecedented territory, a global pandemic- and for the first time in fleeting history, the whole world has paused. It’s weird. Unnatural. Because how can we accomplish anything, do anything, be anything if we aren’t rushing and frantic, and doing all the buying and selling and living and dying we’ve always done. But as we have found ourselves here, in this historic space- what if we found ourselves here? Not the obsessive “finding ourselves” that seeks to maximize the comfort and pleasures of self. But what if we found our purpose, our chief end?
What if we paused, not just in our comings and goings- but in our souls? What if we shut off the screens for one hour- or six hours- and pondered eternity? What if we conceded- for one revealing moment- that the things we often live for are the same vanities that have plagued the human race since Solomon bitterly declared nothing new under the sun. Money. Houses. Land. Popularity. Comfort. Pleasure. Adventure. Power. Security. It’s all so tempting, and yet so monotonous, because deep inside, we know it doesn’t satisfy. Yet how else are we to spend these scant years we have been allotted?
Sometimes I actually find myself living for a house. It’s absurd. I can dispense so much time designing and decorating that I neglect to feed my soul, neglect to meet with my Maker- for days at a time. And however different your idols may be in substance, I suspect they are shockingly similar in shallowness. Why are we so frequently derailed in our pursuit of knowing God?
One incredible accomplishment of the dreaded Coronavirus is that the world- the whole world all at one moment in time- is fixated on death and dying. What an opportunity for believers. We, who in our sacred Book, hold the secret to life eternal- we have the opportunity to proclaim the glorious gospel as dying men to dying men. How rare it is that people are anxious about their impending death, when most of the days of their short lives are spent drowning out the gnawing questions of eternity.
As we wait out this uncertain time, let us not waste the two golden opportunities before us:
First, to examine our own souls, to renew our commitment of following hard after Christ, to put aside the worthless idols in favor of the treasures that never fade, to redeem our limited time on this earth, to shake off the haze of mindless living and ponder eternity.
And second, to share the hope of Christ with the friends and neighbors who do not know where to go for answers. Because if we all survive the current crisis, death is just as surely, just as swiftly lurking in our future. Let us walk in the light and be a light.