"The word of the Lord you have spoken is good, " Hezekiah replied. For he thought, "There will be peace and security in my lifetime." - Isaiah 39:8 Let's work our way backwards from here. King Hezekiah had become deathly ill. The prophet Isaiah, acting on the word of the Lord, told the king to put his house in order because he was going to die. A despairing king seeks the Lord with tears and gets an answer few could hope for: an additional 15 years added to his life. Not a bad deal.
The truth is, all of Hezekiah's previous years were just as much a gift from God as those bonus 15 years which God subsequently gave him. The pressing question is, What will I do with the years of my youthful vigor when I don't feel a sense of urgency to do something for God? Those years are a gift from His hand (By the way, I'm afraid I've used up most of them!). To put it another way, How will I steward my time and resources when death is not staring me in the face and I feel like I have all the time in the world?
A dear colleague of mine just passed from this earthly life to his eternal home at the age of 51. That's only 5 years my senior! And let's face it. Most of us will never succeed in persuading God to give us an additional 15 years!
Ok, enough about death. Let's talk about life, abundant and eternal, without end. If you haven't heard, Jesus is the source of this life and gives freely to all who come to him.
When Hezekiah received his new lease on life, the first thing he did was worship. We might call this a song or a poem dedicated to the Giver of Life. How are you doing when it comes to thanking God creatively and continually in the moments, days, months and years He's given you? What could a "thank you" to God look like for you right now? Personally, I've noticed some room for improvement in this area of my life.
The next thing Hezekiah did following his recovery is not as impressive. In fact, it greatly displeased God. He flaunted the riches of his kingdom to some visiting representatives of the king of Babylon. He sought to impress and draw attention to himself rather than give glory to God. The consequence? God kept his original promise of 15 years for Hezekiah. He is faithful. However, the descendants of the king would not have it so good. They would be plundered and made slaves to the king of Babylon. Hezekiah's response? To paraphrase Isaiah 39:8, "As long as God's word has no immediate impact on me, I could care less."
Ouch! From gratitude to indifference in such a short amount of time! But let's face it. We've all been where Hezekiah has been. The contrast may not be as sharp, but nonetheless just as real. Gratitude to indifference. Feeling blessed to feeling the victim. Taking great care to caring less.
All of this begs the question, Is it enough to have "peace and security" in one's lifetime, or is there a greater cause which demands a new motto? Did God spare Hezekiah not only for his sake but for the sake of others- descendants that he would never see? Does God save us for certain causes which we cannot physically embrace this side of heaven and yet are no less important than the here and now?... Descendants who live and love even better than we do. Children and grandchildren who do great things for God. A legacy passed down to our great, great, great grandchildren. Yes, I believe my life can and should praise God beyond my death. And I believe the scriptures encourage us to live in such a way that causes a testimony to ring out long after we're dead and gone.
For me, peace and security in my lifetime just doesn't do the trick. I need a new motto. Anyone out there have a catchy one you'd be willing to share?