"In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die” (Isaiah 38:1).
I read this morning about a new gadget, the Tikker Death Watch, a wristwatch that ticks off the seconds until you die. The watch wearer fills out a questionnaire, inputs age and the countdown begins. (The watch employs a logarithm used by the federal government to estimate life expectancy.)
Swiss inventor, Fredrick Colting (interestingly, a former grave digger!) thought the device would encourage wearers to number their remaining days and live them fully. One potential customer quipped that he would "put out the trash, change into clean underwear, blast some Ethel Merman one last time while sipping latte."
King Hezekiah of Judah had a "Death Watch" of sorts: he became dangerously ill and the prophet Isaiah revealed that the countdown had begun. The king, who was the only 38 years old at the time begged for additional days. God in his mercy gave him fifteen years.
Sad to say, Hezekiah squandered those years, exposing Judah's treasure to the Babylonians, a foolish decision that led to the Babylonian conquest some years later. He also fathered Manasseh, the most despicable king in Judah's history.
What would I do if I knew the hour of my death? Would I number my days and live them in wisdom or would I fritter them away in self-serving efforts to fill our a mythic bucket list?
Peter had his own countdown: "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self- controlled and sober- minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace..." (1 Peter 4:7-10).
What should characterize our remaining years, however many God shall give us? Prayer, love, hospitality and the use of our spiritual gifts; or put another way, patiently and quietly doing those things that have eternal significance. In the words of a plaque that hung on the wall of my boyhood home:
Only one life will soon be past;
only what's done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying how glad I shall be,
that the lamp of my life has blazed out for Thee.