Life across the world has been quite different this year. There have been many instances when the loss of life has been beyond understanding. We’ve had airline crashes and disappearances, ferry accidents, bombings, terrorist attacks, abductions, wars and insurgencies. We have watched fathers, mothers, spouses, brothers, sisters and whole cities grieve very deeply. In all this I have been asking God many questions because it seems inexplicable that there would be so much more loss and hurt in the first six months of this year than at the same time last year.
Recently understanding came as I listened to a brother share about death in a way that I had never really seen or connected to. It gave me perspective and challenged my thought process and I’d like to share the insights I received.
- What would you do if you knew the day you would die?
In Deut 37, God told Moses that he was going to die. Moses was told to go up the mountain and look at the land that God would give to the children of Israel. God then told him that he, Moses, wouldn’t be going across. Can you imagine that? God shows you the good of the future but tells you that you have no part in it and you will die. We all know the rest of the story; Moses never came back from his trip up the mountain because he died up there and God buried him (Deut 35:5-6). He didn’t even come back to say goodbye to the family…he went to meet God and didn’t come back.
The question I asked myself was what would I do if I knew I was about to die? Would I panic, prepare myself and my family?
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- The sadness of death
The reality for man in the face of death is harsh, sad, lonely, lost. Those of us left behind grieve for the loss of person because of the finality of death. In truth, we cannot hold back death or dying because we will all die and neither can we avoid the pain that it brings when we are left behind. Yet I need to ask something, have you noticed that every time Christ talks about the dead He is steadfast to remind people that God allowed the death for the His own honour and glory.
Think of Lazarus in John 11, in verse 14 & 15 Jesus said “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” He said the same about Jairus daughter and the widow’s son. In John 11:41-42 we find it again, “Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
It seems that death provides an opportunity for God to minister to his people and reach deep into their lives. The sadness of death indeed has a purpose.
- Death is the gateway to life
Life beings with death! I know that sounds strange but it is true. Think about it like this, a baby must die to the life of the womb to be alive to the life of the earth. A seed must fall to the ground and die to reproduce itself. Self must die in me for Christ to be fully alive in me. We all must die to this earth to transition to heaven and the final accomplishment of the will and purposes of God.
We believe in eternal life so death stands before us as a gateway that we must all pass through.
- Death is the appointment for all
This thought was the most profound because I realised that for life to be real we must live with certainty that one day our life here as we know it will come to an end and we will leave here. Heb 9:27 says that it is appointed for man to die once, and after that to face judgment… So we must all pass through that door. There is a strange verse I am mulling over, Psalms 116:15: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
Is He happy because we are no longer struggling or because we have now reached perfection and achieved His plan and purpose for us?
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In closing I will share the story of ‘Einstein’s Lost Train Ticket’
Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.
The conductor said, “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.”
Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.
The conductor rushed back and said, “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.”
Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.”
#QuestionOfTheDay: Do you know where you are going?