Even though people may be very rich, they don’t live on and on…They die…
As you may have heard, I’m in Chicago as my mother’s life winds down. It’s naturally causing me to go deep in thought, so I appreciate your curiosity to peek into my feelings just now.
I’ll begin with a storyline I’ve seen somewhere before; perhaps it was an old episode of The Twilight Zone:
A random man or woman opens a newspaper and recognizes the date on the front page is reporting events three months into the future.
The person reads through the news and discovers descriptions of events that have not yet taken place. The sports section reveals the scores of games not yet played. The financial page touts winners and losers in the stock and bond markets.
This person suddenly realizes such information could make them exceedingly wealthy. A few large bets on underdog teams, some money invested on Wall Street.
Soon the profits are pouring in. Out of curiosity this newly minted risk taker returns to the newspaper to see if there’s anything else that could garner further profit. The pages are turned and examined. The Obituary section appears.
In an instant exuberance turns to abject dismay. The person sees their own photograph and life story. Death is imminent.
It’s amazing how the knowledge of death instantly erases the joy of great wealth, or fame, or pleasure, or whatever.
But while acknowledging death may give perspective, it doesn’t provide comfort. Bad people die. Good people die. The atheist dies, and so does the genuine follower of God. But what about comfort in knowing what really lies ahead?
Above I presented a portion of Psalm 49. Here’s a bit more:
Even though people may be very rich, they don’t live on and on.
They are like the animals. They die.
That’s what happens to those who trust in themselves.
It also happens to their followers, who agree with what they say.
They are like sheep and will end up in the grave.
Death will be their shepherd…
The bodies of sinners will waste away in the grave.
They will end up far away from their princely houses.
But God will save me from the place of the dead.
He will certainly take me to himself.
It’s interesting that the psalmist declares death will be the shepherd of those who trust in themselves, rather than the Lord, because in Psalm 23, Israel’s great King David tells us:
The Lord is my shepherd. He gives me everything I need.
He lets me lie down in fields of green grass.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths for the honor of his name.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid.
You are with me.
In life, and in death, everyone has a shepherd. The question is, who is yours?
In the case of my dad, during his entire life he was his own shepherd. He marched to his own drummer. And then, finally about three weeks before he died he confessed that everything he thought was important, business deals, investments, possessions, were crap. “What was most important was right in front of me–the family.”
Shortly before his death Dad finally yielded to his Heavenly Shepherd.
Likewise, Mom too, has confessed her belief in The Shepherd.
Cutting to the chase, the New Testament says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” (Romans 10:9).
What is significant about believing that Jesus rose from the dead is that you are acknowledging He is the victor over death and darkness. The promise for believing this is, what happened to Him will happen to you.
To have faith in the God of resurrection is to believe that when you die, out of the darkness of the night you will go to the light of morning. It is to realize that God has paid the ransom for your soul, and He will take you home to be with Himself.
Understanding that changes everything. For the believer in Jesus–the righteous person–there is no death into darkness. Instead, there is the light of God.
I’ll keep you posted on further revelations.
I’m in Chicago visiting my mother after purchasing a one-way ticket from my home in California.
I was just here two weeks ago.
I rushed out then for a visit because Mom, for some unknown reason, asked me to. It was obvious to me that she hadn’t been feeling 100 percent when I visited her back in February, and from subsequent phone conversations it seemed she was strangely declining. Indeed, the visit two weeks ago confirmed my suspicions: she was not well at all. In fact I was so taken-a-back and concerned that, at my urging, we I visited several independent/assisted care living facilities. However, both my brother (who drove in from Cleveland) and I couldn’t put a finger on what was physically wrong with Mom, and she wasn’t talking.
Then, 10-days after that visit, she took a major fall and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance where she received 8 staples in the back of her head.
It was in the emergency room the physicians realized something was amiss: her vitals were off. Way off.
Through subsequent tests they discovered Mom had advanced liver and kidney cancer for which, at her age, there is no cure. We knew she had a recent bout with bladder cancer, but that appeared to be under control. This new diagnosis was sobering.
It made us wonder why she hadn’t complained to her doctor about her issues, especially given the fact she is a Registered Nurse? All I do know is this 87-year-old dynamo was powering through the debilitating symptoms of a deadly disease–and never once complained.
I arrived to see Mom lying is a hospital bed, asleep, and not looking anything like she did two weeks prior, let alone her appearance back in February.
The doctors say we’re talking days or, at most, weeks.
Early this morning, during a particularly lucid moment, I shared with her the sad news. But I also shared the good news, that there is a Savior in Heaven who has a place prepared for her. She smiled, nodded her head, and squeezed my hand. More on that poignant conversation at another time.
In the meantime, tomorrow I will share further thoughts on life, and death, and eternity.
Also, if I can muster the composure, I may put my thoughts together as a part of my weekly Hidden Headlines Podcast.
Check back and thanks for allowing me to share.
Meantime, thanks for your prayers.
God Bless Georgia.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law his state’s latest pro-life legislation Tuesday morning.
Known as the “Heartbeat Law,” it prohibits abortions after doctors can detect a viable heartbeat.
Governor Kemp kept his campaign promise by signing the bill, HB 481, officially titled the ‘Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act,’ that prohibits abortions in the Georgia after a heartbeat is detected (as early as six weeks into a pregnancy). The law allows exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger.
“Georgia is a state that values life,” Kemp said during the signing ceremony. “We stand up for those who are unable to speak for themselves.”
“Our job is to do what is right, not what is easy,” Kemp added. “We will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life,” he added.
Is God pleased? You be the judge, for it says in the ancient book of Isaiah, chapter 44, verse 24 –
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself”
Despite the onslaught of anti-Christian values pushed by the elite media outlets, radical activists, educators, and politicians, there is a ray of hope. A newly published annual survey found nearly half of all adults engage with the Bible at least three or four times a year on their own.
The “State of the Bible” study, conducted by the Barna Group and commissioned by the American Bible Society, found 48 percent of those in the United States engage — three or four times a year — by using, listening to, watching, praying or using Bible text outside of a church service.
I totally understand that simply reading the Bible won’t get you to Heaven, but it is the Word of God and therefore I’m hopeful that those are reading and “engaging” in the Word, will hear God’s voice and respond to His calling.
Significantly, the study shows that 21 million new people are looking to the Bible for wisdom and guidance this year. Also, 14.9 million people who were disengaged in 2018 have chosen to interact with the Bible in 2019.
- 16 percent of adults in America report using the Bible every day, while another 14 percent use it several times a week, according to the study.
- 9 percent of the population use the Bible once a week, and 7 percent use it once a month.
- 31 percent say they never use the Bible.
Barna observed that while the percent of adults who use the Bible at least three or four times a year has remained relatively stable since tracking began in 2011, the percent of adults who say they never engage with the Bible, 35 percent, has increased 3 percentage points since 2018 and 10 percentage points since 2011.
Other key findings:
- 81 percent of Americans see the church as a place people can go for help.
- 102.7 million adults interact with the Bible, often seeking practical advice for their modern lives.
- Almost 60 percent of Americans believe that the message of the Bible has transformed their lives.
The survey found African Americans (69 percent) are the ethnic group most likely to use the Bible at least three to four times a year, compared to a smaller number of whites (44 percent) and Hispanics (52 percent).
Bible users are also more likely to reside in the South than they are in other regions of the U.S.
The researchers found little difference in Bible use by generation; however those who were married are more likely to use the Bible than single adults.
Also, 21 percent of Bible users are unchurched. The survey also discovered 11 percent of skeptics are reading the Bible.
The study indicates that Bible engagement results in an increase in financial giving and in volunteerism.
In 2018, Bible-centered respondents recalled contributing $1,000 on average, while the Bible-disengaged gave $20 on average