and How to Benefit from it
I was in my teens when I begin to wrestle with the issue of mortality. After God, mortality could be argued to be the central issue of life. Some deny the possibility of life after this one. Some aren't sure. Our son Chris wrote and recorded this musical expression of the question: "Eternity"
In the Bible, Psalm 49 speaks of the certainty of death and the
futility of striving
for those things which can only be left behind (v.10-12). Most of us
would agree. But the psalmist reminds us also that because God offers
what alone is
ultimately valuable (redemption of our lives (v.15) and communion with
Him), we need not
fear loss of what is not ultimate (v.5), nor give our lives for what we
hold (v.10-12). Please take a moment to read this chapter.
Psalm 49 (New International Version)
1 Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world,
2 both low and high, rich and poor alike:
3 My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.
4 I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle:
5 Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me-
6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?
7 No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him-
8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough-
9 that he should live on forever and not see decay.
10 For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish
and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.
12 But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
14 Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them.
The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases;
17 for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.
18 Though while he lived he counted himself blessed—and men praise you when you prosper-
19 he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life .
20 A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
In stark counterpoint with the certainty of mortality is the promise of God expressed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which gives in turn those who trust him the sure hope of eternal life (John 3:16-18).
In my experience the awareness of my mortality, which has caused me to live in the light of God's gift of eternal life, has given motivation and wisdom to live purposefully and encouragement to great hope.
Here are some of the benefits I've found:
Yearning: The certainty of my mortality has given me a strong reason to look beyond this life and to be found by Christ.
Purpose: Mortality and the confidence of eternal life in Christ has given me many reasons to live purposefully, focusing day by day on what is eternal.
Criteria for Decision Making: This focus has in turn given me the basis for making many decisions, making what could have been difficult decisions relatively easy.
Planning with the End in View: Because of mortality and faith in Christ I plan with the end in view, both the end of this life and the ultimate end: eternal life.
Vibrancy in Life: Personally, I can truly say after 40 years that I've not been bored or lonely a single day since giving my life to follow Christ.
Readiness to Die: I am not eager to die. Life has immense joy, satisfaction and meaning to me. But I am content with the richness of life God has given and ready to die when the time comes.
Dr. Billy Graham and country western singer Ricky Skaggs team up to ask the question: Are you afraid to die? - mp3 audio.
I invite you to follow Christ with me throughout this life and to invest your life consistently in what will last for eternity.
With this joyful purpose in this life and expectation of eternal life in your heart, you will bless those around you with hope in a world largely lacking it.
Lord, help me keep the perspective of eternity always and to live my life accordingly.