Never before has this happened to me.
I’ll be 60 years old this year, and I’ve never known, on a first-name basis, anyone living in an active war zone.
Just to the north of now war-torn Ukraine, southern Belarus is home to a few young people we hosted during the summers of the the mid-2000s. Ukraine is itself the home country of a pastor friend who came to America and served those same Belarusian youth. Now both are occupied with Russian soldiers and armaments, and Ukraine is in the process of being destroyed by them. Isn’t it amazing how few days are needed to reduce a beautiful, centuries-old civilization to such rubble that it can be described as “war-torn?”
We had so little time with the Belarusian kids here. Hardly enough time, really, to have good conversations about Jesus, notwithstanding the language barrier. So, we just loved them. We fed them ice cream (maroziva, pronounced mah-ROZ-shih-vah, the Belarusian word for ice cream, is forever burned in my mind), went with them to museums and to the movies, and let them soak in the 4th of July in America, complete with fireworks. We took them to visit family, took them swimming and on long walks, and when they were sick, took their temperatures. We wondered if these young people from the other side of the world could ever like us, or if the cultural divide was just too great.
After only six weeks, to our amazement, these young people ended up loving us. And we loved them back, deeply, and still do to this day.
Imagine our horror as we’ve watched the events of the last week unfold. These families now know first-hand how fragile life is, something that most in the U.S. have no idea about. At least not in this way.
Judging by how often it’s discussed in God’s word, life’s fragility is a lesson that God wants us to learn, but not necessarily through the fury of war. From cover to cover, the Bible is replete with admonitions to remember life’s tenuity, and pleas to the Father for his help in doing that.
So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.Psalm 90:12
Both the Old and the New Testaments are full of reminders that our lives are but a wisp, and we should consider that fact in all of life’s choices.
You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.James 4:14
A life lived in light of its brevity, and its speed, will be lived more wisely. You just can’t help it. There’s nothing like the awareness that today may be your last day to prioritize your life. First, and most importantly, our need for Jesus Christ as our Savior takes on primary importance. Click on Thinking About Thinking: Why Take Your Thoughts Captive? to read what Jesus Christ did for you, and how you can invite Him into your life as your Savior and Lord. Remember, you may not have tomorrow. Go to Him today.
A life aligned with Christ as Savior will also prioritize living in accordance with God’s will. The Apostle Paul put it this way:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.Ephesians 5:15-17
So as I pray for the peace and safety of our friends in southern Belarus, and for the people of Ukraine as a whole, I also pray that those of us not in harm’s way will turn to God, take him at his word, and begin living life as if today was our last. Because as Christ pointed out in the parable of the rich man in Luke 12:20, tonight your soul may be required of you. If that happens, who will then own all the earthly things you’ve accumulated? When that happens, and someday soon it will (Psalm 90:10), don’t you want to be rich towards God?