“This tape will self-destruct in five seconds…”
For some of you that will be a familiar line, voiced at the beginning of each episode of Mission: Impossible by a tape recorder that started smoking even as its reels continued to turn. But even before the tape began to roll, you already knew what was going to happen. That tape recorder was manufactured to carry only one message and play it only once. That tape recorder was made to self-destruct.
Have you ever stopped to consider that you are no different than that tape recorder? Your body, down to the last cell, has been pre-programmed to self-destruct. It is in our very genetic structure, and in the nature of the current physical universe. No matter how healthy you are, no matter how well you take care of your body, you will eventually grow old and die. God has already programmed you to self-destruct.
The Bible speaks very pointedly to this fact:
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14)
Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. (Job 14:1)
We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. (2 Samuel 14:14)
Is this simply indulging in despair, to think of death? No, or else God would not have inspired these words to be recorded in the Scriptures. These words are in the Bible because God wants us to consider the nature of our lives. The poet-warrior David even prayed to God to help him grasp his own mortality in Psalm 39:
O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
So, we are like that tape-recorder in that we are programmed to self-destruct. But we are also like that tape recorder in another way: we have a message. Each one of us has a message to give to the world in our life, a message of love & hope & worship & joy & obedience toward God. Each one of us is unique, and each one of us is important, and each one of us can glorify our Creator.
But guess what— there is one way we are different from the tape recorder. The tape recorder knew how much time it had. It knew when there was only five seconds left. We don’t. We don’t know when the message of our lives will be finished, and the tape will stop rolling. We know our time is brief, but only God knows how long our tape is.
You have only one message, and you only get to play it once. Give it all that you have, starting today. Your tape is running, starting now…
Tick, tick, tick.