Life is short. Eternity is long. To illustrate this reality, Randy Alcorn asks people to take a piece of white paper and place a dot in the center, then draw a line from the dot to the edge of the page. It would look something like this:
Yet the dot and the line are connected to one another. As brief as our existence in this life is, it’s very much connected to our eternal existence. There is no break between the dot and the line. My friend Bruce Wilkinson says it brilliantly: “Everything you do today matters forever.”2
The dot represents our years on earth, while the line represents eternity. Right now all of us are living inside the dot. Yet very few Christians think beyond the dot to the line—to the eternity that awaits us. How foolish it is to live for the dot that is only a blip on the screen of our eternal existence.1
One of my closest friends and I both lost our parents when we were in our late twenties and early thirties. That shared experience has caused us both to talk frequently about how brief our time on earth is. When we are at dinner with our wives and something in the conversation touches on that topic, our wives will roll their eyes and say, “Oh no, here we go again with the ‘life is short’ speech!”
However, as much as I miss my parents, I see their “early departure” (at least from my perspective) as a gift from God that continually reminds me of how brief my life is. Their deaths remind me that while I live in the dot, I should never live for the dot. I must live for the line with eternity in mind. And that is true for you as well.
The New Testament writer James said it this way: “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). And the apostle Peter observed:
All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall. (1 Pet. 1:24 NIV)
As one preacher in the Deep South said, “Life is like grass: It is sown, it is grown, it is mown, it is blown, and then it is gow-ne!” David not only agreed with this observation but prayed God would continually remind him of how brief his earthly life really was. In a psalm that echoed Moses’s petition for the Lord to “teach us to number our days” (Ps. 90:12), David asked:
Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. (39:4–5)
- See Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2004), 436.
- Bruce Wilkinson and David Kopp, A Life God Rewards: Why Everything You Do Today Matters Forever (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2002), 16.
Dr. Robert Jeffress is the best-selling author of 24 books, a nationally and internationally syndicated TV and radio host and the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, one of the largest and most influential churches in America Pathway to Victory, Dr. Jeffress’ broadcast ministry, airs daily nationwide on more than 900 radio stations and is broadcast live to 195 countries. His latest book, A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths About Your Eternal Home, will release September 2017. He is an evangelical advisor to the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.