Borrowing from Tomorrow: Preparedness Message :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1).

“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).

“And as he (Paul) reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity, I will summon you” (Acts 24:25).

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).

(All verses are from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible.)

All of us at one time or another have put things off until the last minute, such as research papers, studying for exams, important decisions at your job, filing your tax returns, buying your children’s Christmas presents on or near Christmas Eve, or asking that girl or guy to marry you before he/she gets tired of waiting and complains about a lack of commitment. These are all examples of procrastination, defined as “a putting off to a future time, or delay.” Just as we tend to put off decisions, chores, or other situations which need our attention in our everyday lives, the same problem applies to those individuals who serve the Lord in varied fields of ministry and service.

How many Bible study teachers wait until the last moment to prepare their lessons? How many pastors wait until Saturday night to write their sermons? With the responsibilities and demands made on the average pastor, it is a wonder that they even have the time to seek God’s counsel and prepare a message. Pastors work an average of 55-75 hours per week making visits, dealing with counseling issues, responding to emergencies, budgets, dealing with troublesome deacons or elders, varied meetings, and other unexpected situations. This takes a toll on him and his family and is one main reason why many pastors and staff quit ministry altogether.

Regardless of what you do or where you are in life, there are too many people who believe that they have plenty of time to accomplish objectives or make decisions when they do not, and neither do you. Putting off anything that involves your well-being is nothing more than a fool’s bet. Tomorrow is not a guarantee, especially when it comes to the matter of where you stand before God and the reality of eternity. If you are a believer and have tried to share your faith with anyone, how many times have you been told by the individual that they will “think about it,” or “check with me later,” or “not now”?

One of the devil’s favorite tactics is to make someone think that they have plenty of time to make their peace with God, that is, if they even bother to give Him any attention at all. The horrible shock will be when their eyes close in death and they will be in a place where they did not expect to go, never to return (Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 9:27).

During my days in healthcare ministry, I responded to calls from the ER, ICU, Critical Care, and regular rooms to visit with patients and their relations and offer prayer and counsel as the time for death arrived. There were also calls where death had already stopped by, and the family or friends were either at peace or in unspeakable grief, especially if the deceased individual may not have gotten right with God or whatever they had chosen to believe or deny. Every time these events occurred, in my mind I would always ask, “Where are they now?” and silently ask the LORD to give me the words I needed to say to provide the answers.

I shudder to think of those patients or anyone else in a situation of extreme crisis or impending demise who did not settle the issue of eternal destination with the LORD. The unexpected deaths also gave me cause for concern, and I wondered if they had either been prepared or had placed their bets on settling that issue later.

The Lord Jesus had something to say about dealing with tomorrow and its burdens. In His Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew, Chapters 5-7, He emphasizes specifically in Chapter 6:33-34 that all we are given is Today and that we should be devoting the time we have to seek and be a part of the coming kingdom of God. The apostles followed this advice during their time of ministry with Jesus. Nowhere in the Gospels is there really any mention of wasted time or words by anyone. Jesus did encourage them to take time to rest (Mark 6:31) and get away from the crowds for a while.

Jesus had a specific mission to accomplish, and He was not about to waste precious time or words arguing with the nitpicky Pharisees or indifferent rulers such as Herod Antipas. Souls were at stake, and the message of repentance and the gospel needed to be spread throughout the regions of Galilee, Judea, and the whole of Israel. The apostles had to be taught and sent out to proclaim the message of redemption through Christ (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-12, 17-20; Acts 1:8).

Throughout the New Testament, the emphasis of the gospel message is to get right with God NOW (2 Corinthians 6:2). To wait is to do nothing at all and reap the eternal consequences. The Scriptures present the tragic portrait of those who thought they could borrow time from a tomorrow that would never come for them, such as the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21), the rich man in hell, and Lazarus in heaven (Luke 16:19-31). The Roman official Felix delayed hearing more from Paul concerning Jesus and the future. He never did call back for Paul and paid the everlasting price for his choice (Acts 24:25).

Going back to the experiences I faced as both a pastor and chaplain, there were a lot of folks who were brought in D.O.A. and sent to the morgue who probably thought they had all day or sometime later to handle spiritual issues should the topic come up, but dropped dead from a heart attack, stroke, an accident, or no explainable reason other than the appointed time spoken of in the Bible had come for them (Ecclesiastes 3:2; Hebrews 9:27).

There will be those who were redeemed in their final moments (Luke 23:39-43} and will be rewarded with those of us who have served the Lord Jesus for a long time (2 Corinthians 5:10). The point is that we who have been redeemed by Christ did not put it off or give excuses but heeded the call to come to Him at that moment, because it is Jesus Christ alone who gives us access to eternal life and a place with God the Father (John 3:16, 14:1-6; Acts 4:12, 16:31; Romans 5:6-11, 6:23, 10:9-10). The status of your age, health, net worth, or personal belief that nothing will happen to you makes no difference to death, who is no respecter of persons. Either you are prepared, or you are not.

There is no neutral stand, and you cannot invest in a day that may not be here for you. You cannot borrow extra time from tomorrow, or even a few moments from the rest of this day, for that matter. The unexpected can come at any time and is not going to consider your schedule or list of priorities.

Forty-five years ago, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ without delay or excuse. I am assured by His death for my sins on the cross and His resurrection from the dead and His Word that I will be with Him for all time, free from the curse of sin and death, and have a new life that cannot be described with our small words (1 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8). If the Bible is true, then I am without any excuse not to respond to its message of repentance and forgiveness for my sins and to give all that I am or have to the Lord Jesus Christ. Tomorrow may not come for you, and all you have is this moment. To ignore this plea is to withdraw counterfeit funds from the bank of wishful thinking. Come to Christ Today.