It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment – Hebrews 9:27

I live every day with the effects of a terrible tropical disease contracted while living in Africa. I am going deaf, am often completely crippled and live in constant pain. But one of the most vexing effects is to my heart. Because of the damage to my nervous system, I sometimes have arrhythmias. Someday, the signal to my heart may be so mixed up that it might simply stop beating.

So I go to sleep every night and awake every morning with the thought that my heart could stop beating at any time. Some people shake their heads in sympathy and ask “How can you live with such knowledge?”

But the truth of the matter is that my disease simply forces me to pay attention to a pre-existing truth. Each of us may die at any moment. I am not any different than anyone else. My chances of dying are not any greater or less than any other human on this planet because my God is in control and will not allow me to die before my appointed time. Until He is done with me, no one may kill me. When He is done with me, no one can do anything to keep me alive. Therefore I live every day firmly within His grasp.

There was once a man named Damocles who envied his king. He thought that to be rich, powerful and pampered would be a wonderful thing. So King Dionysius granted Damocles one day to live as a king. At first, Damocles basked in the throne’s luxury, but then he noticed a large, sharp sword was dangling right over his head, hung by a mere horse hair! That thread looked so frail that it could snap at any moment. He was no longer interested in the king’s fine food, the beautiful music or sweet perfumes. He suddenly realized that the king had to live every moment with the fear of assassination or betrayal and he did not envy the king any more.

Each of us lives with the Damoclean sword of death hanging over our heads every moment of every day. We just choose to ignore that irrefutable fact most of our lives. But we need to not merely acknowledge this truth; we need to embrace it and let it change the way we live. Our circumstances may fluctuate between poverty and wealth. Our health may go from wellness to disease. Even our minds can be changed by the slightest ebb or flow of chemistry in our brains. But one unchanging fact of life is that none of us will survive. The wage of sin is death and we are all, unfortunately, infected.

Live each moment as though it were your last. Prepare for the Judgment seat. Get your affairs in order. Then you will be able to look up, see what’s hanging over you - and smile.