Is it just me or are the days really going by quickly? My brother-in-law and I were sitting in a boat fishing yesterday and he asked a simple but I think profound question. He asked, "Does it seem to you like the days, weeks, and even years are flying by? My answer was a simple "yes." Time is fleeting in more ways than one. The end of time is coming and it's doing so very quickly. But I'm going to speak here only about the end of time with reference to one's death. We are going to die if the Lord tarries His return very long at all. That is a fact that cannot be disputed and the aging process is clearly a testimony to that.
That's part of the reason it seems rather odd to me that there is a general unwillingness in our culture to accept our own mortality and a viewing of ourselves as being in the process of dying. In some quarters it is almost offensive to speak of it. I guess the thinking is if we'll just pretend it doesn't exist.. it won't. That sounds like the attitude some of our Politicians have toward our National debt doesn't it!. Thus our ever present emphasis on youth, health, beauty, and longevity may really indicate an overwhelming cultural denial of the inevitability of death.
But as Christians we must be willing to confront this "myth of immortality" that so many seem to have regarding this present life. In fact, Christians are in the very good position of being able to, as I read one person say it, "die slowly." The idea he was expressing was one where the person who has come to really accept his or her own mortality will be far better prepared to face the inevitability of that death and all that attends it before and after the death event.
Dr. John Dunlop, a Christian Counselor, said it this way...“It is imperative that, as maturing Christians, we begin early the process of dying. We must no longer fear death; we must see it as a defeated enemy. We must begin to relinquish the material values of this life and to focus increasingly on the life of eternity that God has prepared for us. It is with these perspectives that we will be prepared to face the latter days of our lives.”
One of the things I really like in what Dr. Dunlap said is that part about relinquishing the material values of this life. Maybe it's just me, but an odd thing has happened personally in my older age. I've more material wealth than I've ever had and that has surprised me beyond measure. Of course I'm speaking in relative terms here. My wealth compared to some upper middle class folks would cause them to think of me as poverty stricken. They would be wrong. So would anyone who would think of me as wealthy. But compared to so many in the third world countries I am indeed wealthy. So it is enough for me to say, I'm one who has need of nothing and am quite happy to be at that kind of place at this time in my life.
But that being so, I am also discovering that things like money, cars, houses, and such are not of much significance to me any more. I've said this for years but I think, in many ways, I was only fooling myself. However, I've discovered my later years to be different days entirely.
I don't know what has caused it. It could be that more loved ones are dying. That is reality. Or perhaps it's just the fact that my own body is getting rather cranky about getting around. Then there is the mirror experience that always throws me for a loop where I wind up wondering who is this person looking back at me?
Add to all that what we're seeing in our nation. It seems to me that the things that we thought so secure are now being shaken apart. This may be so that only that which is truly stable is going to remain and it has little to do with possessions. But all of this is simply reminding me that we usually do not embark on the road of wisdom until we deeply experience the fact that one day all things will come to an end. Our living IS truly limited, our days ARE numbered, and I think we DO lack a proper perspective oF REAL life till we consider this.
It is this perspective about life as we now know it, ending, and on it's heels eternity is coming, that enables us to have a balanced view of the here and now and the hereafter. To lay hold on this present life as if it's the all significant issue is to fail miserably. To be taken up with eternity as if this life is insignificant is just as damaging to reality. It is the balance of the two that gives a clear vision and maintains clear headedness. It may be that as we consciously seek to not only lay less of a hold on this life but to be progressively taken up with the next, that we are able to embrace the fact of dying with grace.
I love how Robert C. Roberts said it...
“For a person whose roots have been thoroughly transplanted from the present soil into that of eternity, who dances lightly on the surface of the earth and so is ready to leave at a moment’s notice, there would be little point in dwelling on the thought of death. Sad to say, however, this mind-set is rarely to be found among those who profess Christianity. Most churchgoers are as deeply rooted in this world, and thus as deeply in despair, as those who profess no such hope. Far from being an exercise in morbidity, a deepening acquaintance with our death and with the vanity of human wishes is for our worldly hearts a needed path to perfect health” (Robert C. Roberts, Spirituality and Human Emotion).
That's what I want to do. I want to "dance lightly on the surface of the earth and be ready to leave at a moment's notice." I call it being ready for..."This thing called dying."
Scripture says it well...
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (II Corinthians 4:16-18).