I will be preaching this Sunday for our tri-annual Van Dyke family reunion. This is the first reunion without one of the original 11 Van Dyke siblings. They’ve all gone to be with the Lord. “Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away.” We will fondly remember them over this coming weekend as we share stories from the past. But soon the storytellers will also be gone and even the memories will fade into the forgotten past.
“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone and we fly away.” (Ps 90:10)
I have been thinking about death lately. Not morbidly. I know death is a conquered foe. But it is still an inevitable reality. And the Bible says that there is something about “numbering our days” that produces wisdom (Ps 90:12).
What is the wisdom of remembering our own mortality?
It reminds us that time is a precious gift to be used wisely. Every hour we spend is an hour that is spent forever.
It encourages us to live with an eternal perspective. I remember Francis Chan explaining this by using a long white rope with a 2-inch piece of red tape wrapped around the end in his hand. He said, “Imagine this rope goes on forever. This rope is a timeline of your existence. You exist forever. Do you see this red part? This would represent your time on earth. You’ve got a few short years here on earth, and then you have all of eternity somewhere else. And what blows me away is that, some of you, all you think about is this red part. You’re consumed with that….Are you kidding me? What about eternity??”
It reminds us that the world is under God’s curse. Moses writes, “Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?” (Ps 90:11) Who considers the reality of sin and divine wrath and deserved judgment? People forget about these things all the time, on purpose. But death is a relentless reminder of the crisis of man’s fall into sin and our desperate need for redemption.
It reminds us that God has truly and gloriously conquered death by putting His own Son to death on a cross. Jesus destroyed the power of death over us by atoning for our sin. This incredible victory is freely given to all those who confess their sin and believe in the Name of Jesus!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)
It reminds us that heartaches and trials are temporary – and glory is eternal! As Paul says so wonderfully in 2 Corinthians 4:16–18 (ESV),
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Aren’t you glad that this is true?!
It reminds us that we have a calling in this world to prepare ourselves, our children, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the perishing world around us – for death and for the eternity that follows. How are you doing that in your life today? I read an interesting article written by Dr. Joel Cho, a medical doctor who has watched many people die. It’s entitled “A Doctor Shares The Secret to Dying Well”. Do you know what it is? Living day by day with Jesus. He writes, “If a person’s life is characterized by faithfulness, his death is as well.” A normal Christian life of prayer, time in the Word, public worship, and intentional discipleship is God’s way of preparing us for death and for the infinite glory beyond it.
So, dear brothers and sisters, mememto mori - remember death. You will find it to be “a surprising path to living hope”. (See below)!
What Pastor Dale is reading. . .
Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope by Matthew McCullough
Your Preparation to be a Martyr Starts... Now by Ed Smither
- A Tragedy at Sea - This is a short, encouraging article written by Tim Challies whose son passed away last year.