Whether we realize it or not, we are all suffering from a shortness of breath. Each inhale leaves us one less before we breathe our last. While this may sound morbid and depressing to some, it should not be the case for followers of Jesus. For me, the thought invokes both excitement and a sense of urgency. I have no greater desire than to be with Jesus.
I don’t fear death and neither should you if you have placed your faith in, and pledged devotion to, Christ. Paul said to be absent from the body was to be in the presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:7-8). There is no fear in being surrounded by perfect love (1 John 4:18).
Our shortness of breath should instill an element of urgency into our lives. We have a limited amount of time to further the Kingdom of God and to live the life for which He created us. We dare not waste a breath or a moment because we never know which one will be our last. Each idle word and pointless activity is rolling the dice it won’t be the last thing we say or do before meeting Jesus. I don’t say this to scare anyone. Regardless of what we were doing the instant before death, Jesus will passionately embrace each of His disciples when they meet Him at last.
Still, knowing our time is limited, why would we do anything in life that doesn’t glorify God? He is the whole purpose of living. He should be the reason we get up each morning. To live is Christ. Nothing else matters. When Christ is everything to us, we won’t waste our days on the trivial things of life. We won’t waste our thoughts on careless daydreams and sinful enticements. Recognizing our own shortness of breath, we should do everything we can to maximize our time on earth. Jesus died in order to give us life; how dare we squander what was purchased at so high a price!
Just as tragic as squandering our life is to fear losing it. Nothing can be gained from such anxiety. We are not of this world (John 17:16); why would we want to stay any longer than we had to? Yes, there is much to be done while we are alive, but it is such an insignificant amount of time compared to eternity. Personally, I’d rather get on with it! Until then, we would do well to practice spending every moment in the presence of Christ. While it isn’t feasible to do this physically, we can – and should – train our hearts and minds to be constantly in His presence.
Our shortness of breath will be fatal. Until that moment, it is our duty to spend our time in service to God, and to prepare ourselves and others for the moment our breaths run out. We must do everything we can to maximize our breaths, not spend our time seeking to add more. We have the time we have, and after that we have Jesus. I’ll take that trade without hesitation and without fear. I welcome my shortness of breath. It reminds me why I’m here and where I’m going.