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The Tragedy Of Running Out Of Time

“We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time…What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”1

Whereas 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. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:14-16

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 Merely days after her graduation from prestigious Yale University, Marina Keegan, a talented writer and campus journalist, was tragically killed in a car crash on the way to a family summer house in Massachusetts.2 Her final essay for the Yale student newspaper, titled “The Opposite of Loneliness,” was published shortly before her death on Saturday, May 26, 2012. She had many opportunities before her: she had been published in the New York Times; she was recently hired by The New Yorker magazine; and she was also an aspiring playwright.3 Sadly, her life abruptly closed on a Cape Cod road. Even more tragic are the sentiments she expressed in her final essay: “We have so much time.” This is a common mistake among contemporary people.

Everyone Has An Appointment

  The Bible affirms that “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27), and the text at the top of the page compares human life to a fleeting vapor. 1 John 2:17 says: “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Similarly, 1 Cor. 7:31 counsels holding this world with a light grip: “And those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.” Accordingly, everything in this present scene is ephemeral and transient – a massive object lesson of the principle of entropy. As the hymnist poetically put it:

“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see;

O Thou who changest not, abide with me.”4

 Given the uncertain nature of the duration of one’s life, preparation for eternity is essential. Young people are particularly prone to a mistaken assumption of long life, health, and general prosperity. The illusory weed of false invincibility finds fertile soil in teenage and twenty-something hearts. Yet one day life will end – either by death or by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in judgment. There is only one way to be ready: repentance and faith towards God through Christ, the Son of God (Acts 20:21.)

Brevity May Yield To Eternity

  One may be certain of where they will spend eternity in this life! The Lord Jesus promises to give eternal life to those who receive Him by faith (Jn. 1:12), saying: “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:28.) People cannot earn eternal life by their good works or personal merit (Eph. 2:8-9.) Eternal life is a free gift given to those who confess their lostness as sinners, turn from themselves to Christ, trusting in Him to save them based on His sacrificial death on the cross and triumphant bodily resurrection and ascension to glory.

  Believers in Christ have eternal life presently. The Holy Spirit indwells them (Eph. 1:13-14), and they await the redemption of their bodies at the Lord Jesus’ return (1 Thes. 1:9-10; Rom. 8.) As another hymn evocatively describes it:

And is it so! I shall be like Thy Son?

Is this the grace which He for me has won?

Father of glory—thought beyond all thought!

In glory, to His own blest likeness brought!

Oh, Jesus, Lord, who loved me like to Thee?

Fruit of Thy work, with Thee, too, there to see

Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll,

Myself the prize and travail of Thy soul.

Yet it must be: Thy love had not its rest

Were Thy redeemed not with Thee fully blest;

That love that gives not as the world, but shares

All it possesses with its loved co-heirs.

Nor I alone; Thy loved ones, all complete

In glory, round Thee there with joy shall meet

All like Thee, for Thy glory like Thee, Lord,

Object supreme of all, by all adored.

Christians may make the same mistake that Miss Keegan made: the presumption of having plenty of time. Believers must “redeem the time for the days are evil”(Eph. 5:16); that is, we must intentionally marshal the time at our disposal for the glory of God. The Lord Jesus set us the perfect example of service, saying: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (Jn. 9:4.) Let our testimony be that which is expressed Cousin’s classic lyrics, which were based upon a sermon by Samuel Rutherford:

I have borne scorn and hatred, I have borne wrong and shame,

Earth’s proud ones have reproached me for Christ’s thrice blessed Name:

Where God His seal set fairest they’ve stamped the foulest brand,

But judgment shines like noonday in Immanuel’s land.

They’ve summoned me before them, but there I may not come,

My Lord says ‘Come up hither,’ My Lord says ‘Welcome home!’

My King, at His white throne, my presence doth command

Where glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

I’ve wrestled on towards Heaven, against storm and wind and tide,

Now, like a weary traveler that leaneth on his guide,

Amid the shades of evening, while sinks life’s lingering sand,

I hail the glory dawning from Immanuel’s land.

Deep waters crossed life’s pathway, the hedge of thorns was sharp;

Now, these lie all behind me Oh! for a well tuned harp!

Oh! To join hallelujah with yon triumphant band,

Who sing where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.6


*Special thanks to my friend & brother Mitch Zajac who drew my attention to the original newspaper article.

[1] Marina Keegan, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” Yale Daily News, May 27, 2012, found here: http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2012/may/27/keegan-opposite-loneliness/ Accessed on 6/1/12.

[2] Associated Press, “Mass. crash victim had just graduated from Yale,” found here: http://news.yahoo.com/mass-crash-victim-had-just-graduated-yale-142729409.html Accessed here on 6/1/12.

[3] Claudine Zap, “Marina Keegan: Yale grad’s final essay gets new life after writer’s death,” found here: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/upshot/marina-keegan-yale-grad-final-essay-gets-life-215142327.html Accessed on 6/1/12.
[4] Henry F. Lyte, “Abide With Me,” found here: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/b/abidewme.htm Accessed on 6/1/12.
[5] J.N. Darby, “And is it so,” found here: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/950#ixzz1wa6GTo1X
Accessed on 6/1/12.
[6] Anne Ross Cousin, “Immanuel’s Land,” found here: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/a/sandtime.htm Accessed on 6/1/12.