The Lord said to me late last year: “Femi, you are wasting your life.”
On 31st May, 2009, some 228 people boarded Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Within four hours of departure, the plane crashed into the Atlantic, killing all those on board. The tragedy was without warning and without reprieve. Jesus asks: “Do you suppose (those passengers) were worse sinners than all others because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3).
Hand of fate
Johanna Ganthaler and her husband were supposed to be on Air France 447. They were saved because they were negligent. They came late and missed the ill-fated flight. They managed to pick up another flight from Rio the next day and arrived back home safely. But less than two weeks later, their car swerved in front of an oncoming truck in Kufstein, Austria killing Johanna instantly. Her husband was also badly injured in the crash.
How should we regard such incidents? Many of us are convinced we will live to be at least seventy years old. God, we insist, will satisfy us with long life. But we have heard of many devout Christians (and Moslems) who died young. Nevertheless, we just know our case will be different. Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, only lived to be around thirty-three years old. So why are we so sure we will not catch pneumonia today and die tomorrow?
Purpose of life
In any case, why do we want to live to a ripe old age? What exactly do we want to spend more time doing here on earth? Jacob sent his son Joseph to his brothers. The errand changed the course of his life. Jesse sent his son David to his brothers. The errand led him to Goliath. The Father sent his Son Jesus to his brothers in the world. The errand required him to lay down his life. So tell me, why did God send us into this world? Is it so we can eat, drink and be merry? Is it so we can marry five husbands and have a brood of children and grand-children? Or is it so we can make a lot of money and become very famous?
A few years ago, a friend of mine was suddenly diagnosed with cancer. I sat beside her in hospital, but was at a loss for words. When we talk to the sick, we often talk to them about this life. We want them to get well so they can continue living in miserable Nigeria. We want them to get well, so they can keep eating rice, drinking coke, making money, going to parties and having sex. But what do you say to a woman who knows she is going to die? Sometimes I wonder if we really know that one day we are actually going to die.
My sick friend said to me: “All I want to do now is worship the Lord.” But why? Why did she want to worship God then? Why must we wait until we are terminally sick before we recognize the need to worship the Lord? Why must we wait until we are old and gray-haired; have no ambitions left to pursue; no more houses to build and no more territories to conquer before we worship our maker? Solomon counsels: “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
If we were to die tomorrow, what would we say we achieved on earth? Would the Lord say to us: “Well done good and faithful servant, you were married and had three children?” Would he really congratulate us because we obtained a degree in Engineering at Yaba Tech? Would he commend us for being successful businessmen? Would he make us rulers in his kingdom because we went to church every Sunday, even when it rained? Or would we discover belatedly that our lives have been one big waste of time?
I listened to the tributes to Michael Jackson but could not help but wonder if his life of singing and dancing was not a waste. I watched Tiger Woods playing golf, but could not help but wonder if life should not be more than hitting a golf ball. I watched 80,000 fans welcome Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, but wondered if there was any real value in kicking a leather ball all day long.
The Lord said to me late last year; I heard him as clear as a bell. “Femi,” he said, “you are wasting your life.” Then I remembered his words in the bible: “I must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).