What Death Teaches Us About Life

On Sundays I write on Spirituality & Faith.  I do it because I believe we’re all spiritual beings and have a moral compass in our lives.  You can learn more by clicking here.

Last Wednesday, I attended the funeral for one of my earliest spiritual mentors.  He was the youth pastor, and then senior pastor, of the church I grew up in.  He served in that church for 33 years.

He was only 58 at the time of his death.  When I was a kid, 58 sounded pretty old, but now that I’m 40, it doesn’t really sound so old at all!  Really, no matter how old we are when we die, life is too short.

The Bible reminds us of this fact over and over.  The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time to be born and a time to die.  You and I can’t control either activity, can we?

The Apostle James tells us that life is fleeting, like the morning fog. In fact, here’s what he said in James 4:13-17:

Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

The Apostle Peter tells us that people are like grass and flowers.  In 1st Peter 1:24-25, he quotes the Prophet Isaiah, saying…

“People are like grass that dies away;
their beauty fades as quickly as the beauty of wildflowers.
The grass withers,
and the flowers fall away.
But the word of the Lord will last forever.”

And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

At the funeral on Wednesday, I saw many flower arrangements that were at the peak of their beauty.  They looked great and smelled so wonderful.  But within a few days, those flowers will wither and fade away.

And so it is with our lives.  Today, you and I can be at the peak of life, on top of the world.  So full of hope and beauty, so full of plans and dreams.  And for some of us, perhaps so full of ourselves, trying to live life in our own strength and for our own purposes.

But at some time, maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, or next year or in 30 years…only God knows when…our summons will come and our life on this earth will be over.

Funerals give us a unique opportunity to reflect on our own lives. They warn us not to be deceived into thinking we have lots of remaining time left to discover God’s plan for our lives, to enjoy our loved ones, to follow our dreams, or do what we know we should do.

And they remind us that only a few things really last forever. So, let’s stop grasping for the temporary and instead focus more of our time, money, and energy on the permanent things.  For me, that’s reading the Bible, understanding my life in Christ, and investing in the lives of others.

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