God May Prolong Your Days — But Don't Depend on That (Helaman 15)
In Helaman 15, Samuel the Lamanite continues to preach repentance to the Nephites. He points out that the Lamanites, who have historically opposed the things of God, are now in God's good graces, as they have repented and are now keeping His commandments. He states several times that God "prolonged the days" of the Lamanites in order to allow them enough time for this to occur.
In this particular case, he meant that God prolonged their existence as a class of people in order to fulfill His promises — see Alma 9:16. This prolonging continues to this day, as we await the fulfillment of God's promises to Israel.
However, there are instances when God prolongs the days of an individual person — extends their life on earth — in order to fulfill some purpose. It may have happened to you or someone you know. Perhaps you were spared from a catastrophic accident or miraculously healed of a disease that could have been fatal. If so, God has prolonged your days.
OK, so God extended your life. Why did He do this?
Did you need more time to prepare for your eternal salvation? If so, thank God for His mercy. Perhaps God wanted to use you to make a difference in the life of another person (or people). Perhaps there was some other unfinished work to complete. You may not even know the reason yet — it could still be in your future. Whether or not you know why, if God has prolonged your days, then there is a reason.
On the other hand, we have all known people whose lives were (sadly) not extended — a disease claimed them at a relatively young age, they died in some type of accident, etc. This doesn't mean that they were no longer needed or that there was nothing more they could have accomplished. God calls people home when He wants to. We don't really understand how He determines who gets prolonged days and who doesn't, but since none of us — good or bad — is guaranteed any specific amount of time on earth, we should all feel some urgency to do what God wants us to do while we still have time.
Years ago, I saw the following quote in a comic strip:
"I have been put on earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now, I am so far behind that I will never die."
It's funny in its way, especially for those of us who feel like we're always trying to catch up with a long to-do list. However, the harsh reality is that God will choose a day to call us home to meet Him, regardless of how many things remain on our to-do list. Therefore, we need to make sure we are taking care of business here on earth while we still have the opportunity to do so. Here are a few time-sensitive things to focus on:
- Prepare for Salvation: "Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance — this day of life…is given us to prepare for eternity." (Alma 34:33)
- Heal Relationships with Others: "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." (Ephesians 4:26)
- Do the Work You Are Called to Do: "Then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed." (Alma 34:33)
If you have things in the above categories that remain undone, don't delay! Yes, in some cases there may be preparation required before jumping right into something. Yes, there are times when the right thing to do is to wait upon the Lord. However, as a general rule, if there is something that you want to do — or that you must do — before you die, don't put it off too long.
You don't know what the future holds. God may prolong your days to give you more time to get something done. But don't depend on that — get it done now!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.