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.