“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” Hebrews 9:27
You may think that death isn’t an ideal subject for the day’s meditation, maybe even believe it’s out of place in a blog titled, Seize the Day. But before you dismiss the topic allow me to suggest that a person’s conception of death determines his or her philosophy of life. With this in mind, here are some thoughts on death:
Death is certain. There’s no escaping it. “One can survive everything nowadays except death” Oscar Wilde. It comes to the rich and the poor, the literate and the illiterate, the young and the old, the socially elite and the common folk. As someone once said, “The world is a very dangerous place – you never get out of it alive.” Everyone has to look it in the eye. There are no family ties that death cannot loosen, no medicine to avert it, no power to stop it. Even paths of glory lead to the grave. We may be able to free ourselves from the womb but there’s no scalpel sharp enough to cut the umbilical cord connecting us to the grave.
Yes, death is terminal. We all stand on the brink of another world. In an Indiana cemetery there’s a tombstone which bears an epitaph which says, “Pause Stranger, when you pass me by. As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so you will be. So prepare for death and follow me.”
Don’t ignore the obvious. Whether you’re busy or asleep death will one day find you. For “death is the debt we must all pay” Euripedes. No exceptions are made. “Death takes no bribes” Benjamin Franklin. One out of one people die. You can’t beat the odds. It’s the last thing every one of us will do. As Joseph Bayly says, “The door of the hearse is never closed.” Whether we’re ready or not, at an hour known only to God, we will all face death and succumb to the grave. Hebrews 9:27 says it succinctly, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”
One of the world’s great tragedies is that so many people die for nothing. In a number of the funeral or memorial services I conduct there’s very little to be said about the individual’s life. It can be quite embarrassing at times. I remember one eulogy in which essentially two points were made – the individual concerned liked to have a beer with his pals and he enjoyed listening to the song, Puff the Magic Dragon. What a waste of a life. To have lived for oneself and no one else is a disaster.
So don’t squander the time God has apportioned to you. “Life is too short to be little” Disraeli. Don’t live as if you’re oblivious to the fact that your life will cease. Rather, spend your energies on something that will last beyond your lifetime. Make provision for eternity. Take good care of your life. Live extravagantly, in such a way that your lamp will shine for Christ each and every day until your last day. For “life is not a cup to be drained, but a measure to be filled” Anonymous. The following poem, by a missionary to Egypt, sums it up:
When my life
is past, how
glad I shall
be that the
lamp of my
life has been shining for Thee.
I shall then not regret what I gave,
of labour, or money for sinners to
save. I shall not mind that the way
has been rough. That my Saviour
led me – that
will be enough.
When I am
dying how glad
I shall be, that
the lamp of my
life has been
shining for Thee.