“It is later than you think!” – This phrase is written on a garden wall in the Chinese capital of Beijing. Of course, this does not mean your watch: you would quickly get it adjusted if it started losing time. But your life clock is even later than you think!
Do you need evidence for this? Just read the news. The articles about accidents and crimes and the pages of obituaries tell you everything. Add to this endless litany of individual cases all sorts of catastrophes, in which hundreds of people have to leave this world from one moment to the next.
It happened on October 8, 1952: The station clock in the London suburb of Harrow indicated it was 8:19. On track 4 was a passenger train, fully occupied with mostly laborers and school children. At that moment, a Scotland Express, running late, hurtled down the wrong track at full speed and smashed into the passenger train, destroying the flyover and throwing debris over the other tracks. In the next moment, the morning fast train from London – Manchester came racing in on track 3 – and derailed. The cars piled up in a jumble of steel, wood, glass and – people – to a depth of 10 meters. Hundreds of passengers lay under the rubble of the three interlocked trains. The screaming of the wounded and the moaning of the dying was horrifying.
Everything happened within a span of 40 seconds. But what about the station clock? It still showed 8:19. It had to be later. Yes, it was later. The vibrations from the impact or a missile of a chunk of wood had stopped it. But there was something else hanging on the wall next to the clock: a poster from the station mission. People stopped, and, deeply shocked, read: “Be ready to see your Lord!”
The morning mist still hung in the air as wreckers with cranes rolled up to rescue the victims. The disaster claimed 122 dead and 340 injured. It was later than they all thought!
The Psalmist is so right when he says in Psalm 103:15-16: “As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”
In the face of the catastrophe in Harrow, I am unequivocally aware of the fact that my life is not in my hands but in God’s hands alone. Because I have no insight into His hidden workings, I want to remind myself again: It may be later than I think. Whether spring, summer, autumn, or winter, whether day or night, death is constantly passing through our ranks, and nobody knows where it will find its prey. A poet says: In the midst of life, we are surrounded by death.
We are actually candidates for death from the moment of our birth. None of us knows at what moment his thread of life will tear. When you get up in the morning and start the new day abounding with health, remember: it may be later for you than you think.