Since I was little, I’ve had this strange tug to all things old and mysterious: the dinosaurs, the Egyptians, the Titanic, and Pompeii. As long as I can remember, one of my dreams was to visit Pompeii, Italy, the city destroyed but preserved by the volcano Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 and only discovered first in 1in the early 1900s.
In 2000, my dream of visiting Pompeii, a city of up to 20,000 former inhabitants, was realized. Walking down streets that people walked almost two thousand years before, looking at murals still lining the walls, gazing at mosaics that covered the floor, pretending to be a statue alongside the actual thing, and seeing plaster replicas of preserved bodies, I realized that we are not that different from the people of the past.
We have families, we work, we go about our days and never know when this day may be our last. When our last moment comes, how will we be preserved?
It’s amazing to me that people’s bodies were literally found frozen in action–running, cuddling children, etc. Bread that was popped into an oven in AD 79 was pulled out of the oven, when it was finally opened almost 2000 years later!
No one that day seemed to realize that the next breath would not come. Do we take life for granted too?
As I sat in a little open-air restaurant across the street from the entrance to the excavation site, I looked up at this volcano looming over the city and thought, “I wonder if the people whose houses line this road wake up every morning, look at that volcano and think could today be our day? Could this be our last moment to live?” That is what I would think, if I lived on that street or any where in the vicinity of this massively well-preserved grave site of a city that was literally frozen in time.
Why would I think about it there and not wherever I am? God reminds us that our life is fleeting, like a breath. Here one moment and gone the next.
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
I love an example Francis Chan used in one of his sermons. He pulled out a long white rope and on the very tip of the rope there was a red line. He said something like, “Imagine that this rope runs around the room and that red line represents your physical life on Earth. The rest is eternity.” This idea has stuck with me for years.
Why do we get stuck in a physical mindset when eternity is where we will spend the majority of our time?
What a wonderful lesson! Learn from the past but don’t get trapped in the present or even the future of the next 90 years. It will be gone before we know it. An eternal mindset is one we need to have: a mindset that rises above the earthly pains, material struggles, and emotional stresses, and rests our hearts in the hands of the One who promises that in heaven there will be no pain and no suffering. There will be love. Let that love fill our hearts today! Let it call us to a different way of living. A way that counts everything of this world as nothing. Nothing! Things of this world might be beautiful but they are fleeting.
What Pompeii wonderfully represents for me now as I’m older and slightly wiser, is that our lives should not be in the here and now but in the One who controls the here and now. If we allow our LORD to be in control of our lives, to guide us completely in His ways, then the last breath will be preserved in glorifying Him instead of living for ourselves.
How will your life be preserved?
Are you willing to have an eternal mindset?