King Pen has a quote from St. Augustine on his facebook that I really like.
“Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever, and your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.”
Convicting words. Beautifully crafted. Expertly wielded. I get the body part– it makes sense. Being a good steward of the physical form we’ve been given has countless benefits, as well as being good keepers of the temple, which we are.
But, as to the other, taking care of the soul…
It’s so easy to lose sight of the eternal state of things as we wander these mortal fields. I suppose it is, in some way, a defense mechanism- to avoid thoughts of our measured portion on earth. To believe we have a thousand tomorrows shields us from our Last One. From goodbyes, from departures. It shields us from our unfinished business, our unspoken words. It shields us from unshown kindnesses, from ungiven hugs, every good intention and thought that we didn’t follow through on, because we thought we’d get to it tomorrow. From the sins we plan to repent from sometime in the future, from the Bible reading we intend to start, the church down the road we plan to visit. If we don’t think about it, then we don’t have to be afraid of what we didn’t say or do that we should have. We don’t have to worry about what we’ll regret.
But it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. By not thinking about it, by fooling ourselves into believing death is far away- in an old folk’s home when we’re wrinkled and ancient, then we don’t say and do what needs sayin’ and doin’. We make our regrets a reality. If we instead, lived each moment with knowledge, tommorow is it! Tomorrow is the last day– oh how different we would be, how different the world would be! How forgiving and gracious and merciful we would be. How peaceful and appreciative and kind we would be to one another! How much would we seek to please the Lord, knowing we would be seeing Him face to face the next day? How easy would obedience fill our hearts, how easy to resist evil, knowing, oh Lord, just one more day in this fallen world?
I wish it was more like that, I wish I was more like that. St. Augustine had his Last Tomorrow, but he left words that live forever. Words of warning, words of encouragement– and if he had waited too late to say them, if had he waited one day past his appointed time, then they would have never been spoken aloud. But he didn’t. He didn’t count on tomorrow.
And neither should we.