Young people tend to get so caught up in the present. We tend to think that life will always be as it is- happy and carefree. But we live in a fallen world, and that's not the case. There's a judgment day coming sooner than we think. As I was reading back to one of my favorite classic series, Anne of Green Gables, in Anne of the Island we see Anne's friends all grown up and going about their lives. In particular there's one girl we have watched grow up named Ruby Gillis. Ruby is about twenty, and she's dying. Lucy Maud Montgomery chose to portray death in her novel, and she captured it quite well. As Anne sorrowfully reflects Ruby's life, discussing Ruby's fear of death and desire to stay on earth instead of pass on to eternal life:
“I can’t help it,” said Ruby pitifully. “Even if what you say about heaven is true—and you can’t be sure—it may be only that imagination of yours—it won’t be JUST the same. It CAN’T be. I want to go on living HERE. I’m so young, Anne. I haven’t had my life. I’ve fought so hard to live—and it isn’t any use—I have to die—and leave EVERYTHING I care for.” Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She WAS leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life—the things that pass—forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives . . .
Ruby was so focused on boys, parties, and fashion, that she never took the time to get eternal matters straightened out. And if she had, she wouldn't have cared so much about those things at all:
"Heaven could not be what Ruby had been used to. There had been nothing in her gay, frivolous life, her shallow ideals and aspirations, to fit her for that great change, or make the life to come seem to her anything but alien and unreal and undesirable. Anne wondered helplessly what she could say that would help her."
And here Ruby was in the story at death's door. She had wasted her time on silly things. Today's generation of silly things would be selfies, social media, one upping others, posting our possessions, buying the latest and greatest technology. All things that don't matter in the scheme of things. Ruby's frivolity was different, but still, she hadn't thought of getting right with God until the end. Unfortunately the book claims that being a church member saved Ruby from hell, but in if this were a real story, Ruby would have ended up in hell as she never took the time to repent and see how ridiculous her life was.
And it's Lucy Maud Montgomery's story that makes death such a real concept for those who are young and unaffected much by it. It could happen to us sooner than we think. And what will become of you when you have to face death with a guilty conscience?
The partying, drugs, sexually immoral lifestyle, and other sins will be judged. Although they may seem fun right now, it's a temporary pleasure that's exchanged for eternal pain and gloom.
Contrary to the popular saying that one would rather be in hell with friends rather than Heaven with none, your friends will not be talking and laughing with you in hell. You will be in so much pain you will most likely be unable to talk. The screams and anguish will most likely be deafening without the ability to hear a word spoken. Hell is full of constant torment. How would you have time for fun? What here on earth is worth eternal pain?
The things we may do now because we don't think we will die young or soon could be what dooms us. That indulgence in sin could be our last indulgence. And if professing believers are indulging in habitual sin, be wary that you might actually end up hell, finding that you were not a true believer!
I say these things with an imploring and sorrowful heart. I have had a couple of people pass on, not young, but still heartbreaking, and it was a gentle reminder about preparing my heart for my eternal home, not to think so much about the material things I have or concern myself with work constantly, but to be truly focused on desiring God's word, praying constantly, and leading a life that reveals such. Those things are eternal, and when I get to my home in Heaven, I will not regret that I didn't indulge in worldly sins. What I will regret is that I didn't store treasure in Heaven sooner.
If you're not saved, I would encourage you to get right with God before it's your last day. For those who are, I would encourage you to surround yourself more with the house of mourning than the house of feasting to understand the gravity of eternity. To situate your mind on the eternal and prepare for that day we look forward to.
Published in Boundless, Devozine, The Lookout, The Life, The Secret Place, and many more, Ashlea is a freelance writer on the side and English professor who spends her free time posting here on her blog.