When tomorrow doesn’t come

Like many of you, when I awoke this morning, I was immediately met with reports of untold tragedy in Japan and throughout the Pacific Rim due to the massive earthquake and resultant tsunamis.  My inbox was full of several “CNN Breaking News” emails, and Facebook and Twitter were filled with prayers.  I too joined in praying for the victims of such a catastrophic event.

As I began praying, my mind filled with images of people that might potentially be affected.  There were Ryan and Dave and their families in Hawaii – seminary classmates.  I thought of Beth – a young woman John and I taught in kindergarten Sunday School class who now is in HI with the YWAM program.  I thought of Jeran and Sue in Alaska, and my cousin Kylie on the coast of Oregon.  Then Pam and her family, serving in Indonesia with New Tribes Missions, came to mind.  I also remembered Sherwin and Sherjor, two teenage boys we hosted one summer from the Philippines….

And so it continued throughout the day.  Friends, family, and acquaintances all potentially in harm’s way.  And millions others, unknown to me, yet loved dearly by God, facing massive devastation, destruction and loss of life.  I prayed for the souls of all those who met an untimely, unexpected death.  And the stark reality of the unpredictability and uncertainty of life struck me.

I imagine the victims of this tragedy planning birthday parties and weekend activities just 24 hours ago.  I’m sure there were those who went grocery shopping and paid their bills.  Even others who dreamed about something important that was to happen a year from now.  People who found out they were expecting a child, and others who celebrated an important milestone.  People who lost jobs, and others who were promoted.  There were others who found themselves in the pit of despair or struggling with a relationship.

And yet, everything suddenly came to a crashing halt.  The birthday parties, grocery lists and milestones no longer mattered.  The goals and dreams for next year, or even tomorrow, were literally washed away.  None of us know what tomorrow holds.  It may be exactly what we have planned, or something entirely different.  Tomorrow may be another day as normal, or indeed our last upon this earth.

Is that a reality you live with daily?  Is it something you keep in mind?  If yet another tragedy were to strike tomorrow, and today was your last day…are you ready?  Do you know, without a doubt, where you will spend eternity?  Are you counting on your good looks, good merits, or good works?  Or can you stand firm on the forgiveness and grace offered by Jesus’ death and resurrection?

Tragedies like this cause us to pause and pray for the victims.  But they should also cause us to reflect on our own relationships…relationships with those we love, and relationships with our God.  Sadly, it is too late for many tonight to reflect on something so critically important.  It isn’t, however, too late for you.  Don’t put off that reflection until tomorrow.  For you never know when tomorrow might not come.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Romans 10:9