Planning for major life events is important.
Major life events can be complicated, costly, time-consuming and take some effort to fit into already hectic schedules. It really doesn’t matter whether the event is something we have to do, like write a report for work, or something we want to do, like go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
If there is a lot to it, if it’s out of the normal routine — we need to plan for it.
What got me thinking about this were a number of major events coming up in my life. February is full with events surrounding a three-week long conference. March has four family birthdays and a trip to Southern California for another big conference. April has a large meeting I’ve agreed to help facilitate.
In fact, nearly every month from here to the end of the year has some “extras” which require planning.
But May? May is a logistical nightmare. It might just do me in. Not only do I have my regular responsibilities as a pastor and single parent, which sometimes seems too much for me to handle, but I also have: extra meetings, three children graduating (two from universities and one from high school), a brother’s 50th birthday, my mother’s 80th birthday and multiple trips.
Making all of this fit together has proven to be a bit of a challenge and has required planning.
There are certainly some people who are great planners. I don’t consider myself particularly gifted with planning. It’s not that I’m bad at it, don’t see the value in it or don’t do it. Obviously I do — here it is the middle of January and I’m already thinking about my schedule for the rest of the year. In fact, I just emailed some people about events we’re planning in the summer of 2019.
Some people need to plan ahead even further than that. I know of popular speakers who book speaking engagements three to five years in advance.
There is one major life event which many people often fail to plan. They know it’s coming but there is a bit of denial, so they put off planning. It isn’t a pleasant event to think about — so they put it off. It is an event that is going to happen whether they plan for it or not. So they put it off. But not planning for this event could be eternally devastating. It is an event that eventually happens to all of us, it is an event that could happen at any moment. So it is an event which should be planned for now rather than later.
What is that event? The event is death.
When I suggest that we should plan for our own death, I’m not suggesting that you write out your will, set your affairs in order or plan and pay for your own funeral. Those are certainly good things to take care of and could be a great relief to our family at a time when they are grieving and under a lot of stress.
But what I am talking about is being spiritually ready to die.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “it is appointed unto man once to die ...” The reality of our impending demise is accepted by everyone, even the staunchest atheist.
We may not like it. We may do everything in our power to stop it or at least slow it down. But sooner or later we all die.
But it is the second part of the verse that should really catch our attention and cause us to plan ahead for death. The second part of the verse says, “… but after that the judgement.”
You see, our physical death is not the end. When we die physically our body and our spirit temporally separate. Our body immediately starts the decaying process. But our spirit…? Well, that depends on what you have done with Christ.
The Bible tells us that if you are “in Christ,” (that is to say that you have accepted that you are a sinner and that Christ died in your place to pay for the penalty of your sin) your spirit is immediately with the Lord. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)
But that is not so for those who have rejected God or tried to get to God on their own terms. In John 14:6, Jesus made a definite and exclusive claim. He said, “I am the way the truth and the life no man comes unto the Father but by me.”
If you haven’t thought about eternity — you should.
You will face it someday. If you are planning to get to God through your own good works or by keeping certain laws, you are planning poorly. Ephesians 2:8,9 make it very clear that no one is saved by good works. And Romans 8:3 tells us that the “Law” couldn’t save anyone.
Are you ready to stand before God and be judged? You can choose not to believe in God if you like. Or you can even believe in God and think that you are okay because you are a “good person.”
But that won’t save you. And you still will be judged by God.
You can ignore it, deny it, shout profanities at those who attempt to tell you about it. Why, you can even stomp your feet and throw an absolute “hissy-fit” about it. But that still won’t change the reality of it. Someday we all will stand before the God who created life and we will be judged by Him.
Today is the day for you to plan for that meeting. You don’t know if you have tomorrow. Tomorrow may be too late.