Several years ago, my mother saw a thought-provoking sight as she drove home from dropping my older brother off at school. Against a fence bordering a cemetery was leaning a road work sign that read “BE PREPARED TO STOP.”

Be prepared to stop. In all our busyness of traveling this “road of life”, as we so often call it, how much do we really focus on our destination? We are continually planning for the temporary future – college, career, marriage, children, retirement – but we seldom plan for the permanent future – eternity. The place we’re going to be when our bodies are the ones lying beneath the stone markers, reminding others driving by that this too will one day be their fate, that they should be prepared to stop.

On this journey called life, are you prepared to stop? Do you know your destination?

It is impossible, pointless even, to be truly successful unless you know what your eternal destination is. The Bible makes it clear that this life is temporary:

For one can see that wise men die; the foolish and senseless also pass away.
Then they leave their wealth to others.

Their graves are their eternal homes,
Their homes from generation to generation,
Though they have named estates after themselves.

But despite his assets, man will not last;
he is like the animals that perish.”

Psalm 49:10-13

These verses are a clear reminder that success is not measured by your bank account, or by anything else you leave behind you on this earth. As the saying goes, you can’t take it with you. But where is that?

Everyone is going somewhere. Whether you are aware of it or not, every tick of the clock is bringing you closer to your final destination. But your final destination isn’t the graveyard, even though that is where your earthly body will lie one day. Your final destination is one of two places where your soul and spirit will live eternally in an eternal body.

Eternity. Before we continue any further, stop and think for a moment about eternity. Picture being outside of time – never having an end. When you are in eternity, wherever you are, whatever activities you have to do, will go on and on and on, never ending. It’s almost a little frightening, isn’t it? Even though we complain constantly about not having enough time, in reality the passing moments are a security for us, especially when we are experiencing something painful. We find comfort in the passage of time.

But when your journey of life is over and your time has run out, eternity will begin. And there are two destinations in which to spend eternity. One is streets of gold, gates of pearl, eternal companionship and rejoicing, feasting, no more pain, tears, or heartache. The other is flames of fire searing skin that is never burned away, worms eating flesh that is never consumed, isolation and loneliness and gut-wrenching sobbing that will never, ever, end.

You are headed for one of these two destinations.

Heaven or hell.

But here’s the good part – just like when you are planning a trip, you get to choose where you go. All that is required to secure your ticket to one of these places is a decision on your part.

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned….” John 3:16-18a

Here’s your ticket to heaven. Christ. Jesus Christ, God in human form, came to earth as a baby, lived a sinless life, died on the cross as the perfect fulfillment of God’s justice for your sin, and rose again three days later in victory over sin and the grave.

It’s really that simple. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10

Salvation. Eternal success.

But if you don’t believe?

“…But anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”

Unbelief is your ticket to hell. Simply ignoring, scoffing, or procrastinating too long on this decision will buy you eternal torment. Whether you actively reject it or passively never get around to it, you’re still making a choice to end up in the same place.

Please, don’t laugh hell off. Hell is real. Hell is torment and agony. Hell is hell. And Satan wants you there. He’s your enemy, whispering sugar-coated poisonous lies in your ears that hell isn’t real, or that it’s a party, or that it’s temporary, or that you’re a good person and can get to heaven your own way. But he knows the truth, what it’s really like there: the flames, the pain, the never-ending thirst for a single drop of water, constant longing for relief that never comes. He’s the father of lies, the ultimate deceiver, and he will never stop trying to bring you down with him.

Don’t fall for it. Make the decision to believe. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is God, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Two simple steps to make sure you get to heaven and be eternally successful when you die.

Because to say that spending eternity in hell is an epic fail is a gross understatement.

Don’t hesitate. Choose heaven. Choose Christ.  He loves you and He died in your place for your sin because He wants you to spend eternity in heaven with him.

If you and I are going to be eternally successful, we have to take the first and most important step for being successful and believe in Jesus for salvation from the punishment of our sins.

The end of the road is fast approaching.

Are you prepared to stop?