Lately I find myself considering mortality: not really the fact that I myself am mortal, though this surely plays at least an unconscious part upon my state of mind; no, I am referring to the mortality of those around me. In recent weeks past I have found myself present at more funerals than I typically attend or officiate; visiting more hospital sick beds than usual; hearing more notices of negative Doctor’s reports for family members and loved-ones. Each of these occurrences demand observation and notice, each one brings a ticking clock as a reminder that our flesh is but a flower that withers. With every reminder I am forced to examine precisely what it is that I aim to accomplish in this life. What am I striving for, what is my goal?
Life-threatening medical procedures and terminal illnesses; deaths, funerals and burials; all are truly significant, serious and real events and I almost feel silly in making that statement, but I feel I need to say it. So much time is spent on attempts to escape reality by so many. I am daily surrounded by men and women-”professionals, so called” who use their careers primarily as a means of escape. Then there are those that choose the distraction of constant activities such as sports, (especially if it involves their children), but even grown men and women pouring over broadcasts and newspapers from season to season, sport to sport, just to fill their minds with all the noise in hopes to belay the silence that will come. Oh, then there is entertainment- take your pick, movies, television video games, social media, on and on the list goes. Endless choices. Not even touching on the truly evil vices: alcohol and drugs, (especially prescription drugs); Oh! The lives wasted and destroyed, the time misspent with this insidious escape from reality…
There are a million things and a thousand activities which could be enumerated that we have devised for ourselves to latch onto just to build elaborate constructs that will hide one primary fact: that time for each of us is swiftly rushing onward to an inevitable conclusion- our death.
What does Scripture have to say on the subject?
James 1:9-10 . . . like flowering grass he will pass away.
James 4:13-14 . . . Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
Job 7:6-7 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle . . . “Remember that my life is but breath . . .
Job 9:25-26 “Now my days are swifter than a runner; They flee away, they see no good. “They slip by like reed boats, Like an eagle that swoops on its prey.
Job 14:1-2 “Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. “Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.
Psalm 39:5 “Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
Psalm 102:3 For my days have been consumed in smoke . . .
Isaiah 38:12 “Like a shepherd’s tent my dwelling is pulled up and removed from me; As a weaver I rolled up my life. He cuts me off from the loom; From day until night You make an end of me.
1 Peter 1:24 For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF
Time and again we can read the warnings given in scripture as to how short life really is. Jacob, that Patriarch of the twelve tribes of Israel who lived 130 years when asked of Pharaoh his age, responded with “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been”. Few and evil, 130 years, few!
I read an article today declaring that the oldest living man just died at 112 years of age, and it is still but a breath. Why? No matter how long we are able to stretch out our days (not that we really can) our lives will still not last forever.
Psalm 90:10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.
Earlier I stated that the mortality I was contemplating was not mine own, rather that of those around me. And for the most part that is a true statement. Though I am constantly aware that there are probably less days ahead of me than behind me, I am more keenly disturbed by considering not my own demise, but that of those with whom I interact on a daily basis. You wonder why. So do I, sometimes.
At first I really worried it was due to selfishness, you know, the fact that if my spouse died, or a close relative then I would be left alone. While that thought is troubling I have determine it is not the sole reason for my concern. Honestly I am beginning to think that my concern is not so much the fact that the people I love, the people I know, the people I work with- people in general even- it is not that they are going to die. We all WILL. But, the troubling consideration is that our deaths are not just coming, but they are indeed imminent. The appointment is unavoidable, there is no escaping it. No amount of exercising, healthy eating, or good living will cancel it out. And yet, people more and more seem to care less and less. This! is my chief concern.
Deuteronomy 32:29 O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!
That MUST be my chief concern, if you profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior then it too MUST be your chief concern- the mortality of those around you. The primary motivation in the lives of Christians cannot/should not be that of being entertained; or acquiring wealth; or seeking out lives of comfort and ease. No! How can it be so? With every flower that fades, every light extinguished, every last breath exhaled, a soul enters into eternity- ready or not. And once there- judgment awaits.
Jesus declared in John 5:28-29
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
How can I then, knowing this, apply my energies or time to anything other than proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God?
How can you?