ARAre You Ready to Die?A rich man hoarded wealth only to lose it all upon his death. Is he wise or foolish? How about you?Death is a subject most people rather not talk or think about until it happens to someone they know. Then perhaps one will be reminded of the rich fool who stored his treasures on earth but ended up empty handed when God took his life away. As we examine ourselves, are we the rich fool? Do we try to attain pointless luxuries? God gave us life and can take it away at His discretion. That’s why we must live according to His will. Everyone must die, but we must be ready.
...and he died instantly...
These unforgettable words came over the phone one day last summer. A friend of mine was killed in a terrible accident. The question "Why?" was the first thing that came to mind after the initial shock wore off. He was only twenty something, he was my brother in Christ and my friend. He was full of life and energy. Recently graduated from university, he had just begun a new chapter in life, which he had barely just tasted. He had so many plans. Little did he know that he was going to die so soon. None of us expected it too. Through faith, I understand and accept that God grants us life and thus has the full right and authority to take it away. Nonetheless, I still found the shocking news difficult to accept and comprehend and the same question "Why?" continued to linger in my mind. I should and do, however, take great comfort in the fact that he is enjoying a new chapter in his life now ?and a far more joyful, meaningful and tranquil life than one could ever imagine. Praise the Lord!
"Man's life is short." How many times have we heard that? These words only took effect on me when my friend's life ended so suddenly. Life is like the sound of a bell, whose resonance reaches its listeners for a moment and is heard no more. Despite the gradual increase in health awareness and the advancement of medical knowledge and technology, none can live forever. The law of nature determines that where there is life, there will also be death. Death is a certainty that no one can prevent from happening, although the actual time it happens is uncertain. Furthermore, death knows no barriers and is not prejudicial ?it does not just visit the old and the sick as is the common perception.
Before the sudden death of my friend, the thought of dying never entered my mind. Even if it did, it was quickly dismissed. But thinking about it now, what would happen if God decided to take His breath back from me today or tomorrow. Am I confident enough to say that I am ready for Him and that I will be able to live eternally with Him? Have I lived a life worthy of a child of God? Have I done enough for God? Or more to the point, what have I done for God?
How many times have I put God to one side and left Him there until I had a use for Him or needed Him?
How many times have I been spiritually charged after attending church convocations, youth meetings and theological seminars but failed
to maintain this high level of intensity in my faith after I leave each spiritual oasis? Does my renewed spiritual energy slowly deplete, unnoticed and unused?
How many times have I procrastinated about drawing nearer to God because I am too wrapped up with my life and myself and am not quite willing to cut off or even loosen the ties I have with this world?
How many times have I, moved by God's love and spirit, been determined to become a new person and to love God sincerely with all my heart, only to lose this motivation and drive when I encountered obstacles and succumbed to temptations?
How many times have I pondered over and found excuses when asked to attend bible studies and church services, but readily accepted invitations to the cinema or to dinner?
Embarrassingly, these times have been all too many. When we are enjoying life and everything is hunky-dory, we may develop a complacent attitude towards life, and more importantly towards the church and towards God. When this spiritual apathy becomes apparent to us, it is vital that we take the necessary steps to change for the better. Realization is the first step. Taking action to resolve our spiritual inertia is the key.
Two skydivers, both wearing parachutes, jump from a plane at 15,000 feet in the air. One of the skydivers ignores the ripcord of his parachute and says to himself, "I'm perfectly safe because of my parachute" and still with this ignorant thought in mind, he is killed as he hits the ground at 100 mph. The other skydiver knows that just wearing the parachute will not save him. He must physically do something to avoid the fate of the other skydiver, so he pulls the ripcord of the parachute and lands safely.
If we know we have to make a stronger commitment to God, we should take steps to do it while we still have the chance, whether it is to resolve to work more for God or to modify our priorities in life. If we are aware of our spiritual apathy, we should do something about it. We know too well that "time waits for no man". What if we gain the whole world, yet realize too late, that we have forfeited our soul? No compensation in this world is as valuable as our eternal life. Nothing could ever replace its loss.
Jesus once related a parable about a certain landowner (Lk 12:16-21). This man was very rich, astute and intelligent, but Jesus called him a fool. Why? The reason was that this rich man misunderstood the meaning of life and what it took to fulfill it. He had laid up much good for himself for many years to come but then God told him that he was going to die that very night. What use are riches to the dead? He was a fool because he was so busy gathering his treasures in the material world that he did not think to lay up treasures in heaven. He failed to comprehend that his spiritual needs could not be satisfied through material means. The pursuit of money, prosperity and prestige had occupied his mind and time. How many of us today are just as foolish as him? It is necessary to work in order to take care of our physical needs, but the purpose of living itself calls us to go further than this ?to fulfill our spiritual needs.
The fate of this rich fool should constantly remind us that what we perceive as being of great value might in fact be ultimately meaningless. The only riches that will retain its value and not depreciate with time are those that we invest in our eternal inheritance. These riches are only gained through fearing God, obeying His commandments and testifying for Him. But how many of us look that far ahead?
We are constantly reminded through the news how death does not give any warning. Consequently, "life should not be taken for granted" ?how many times have we heard that adage? Unfortunately, many of us do take life for granted. Day after day we expect tomorrow to bring the start of another brand new day to be filled with work, rest, play and more memories. But what if tomorrow doesn't come to us? Have we ever seriously thought about it?
Sometimes certain events like the sudden death of a young friend serve as a sharp reminder of how adversity may strike at any time and how fragile life really is. We should devote our lives to what really matters and not waste time striving after worldly success, prosperity and pleasure. These are understandable pursuits for those who do not know God. Believers, however, have to pursue goals that are everlasting and pleasing to God.
King Solomon, the man with unprecedented wisdom and wealth, wrote Ecclesiastes not only to warn future generations (including us today) that the pursuit of wealth, power and excessive pleasure was a "striving after wind". He also wanted to spare them the pain of learning for themselves that without God, life is meaningless. Solomon had everything a man could desire but when he concluded that everything was vanity because all men will eventually die
(Eccl 9:2-3), he had to search for true satisfaction elsewhere. The aged Solomon then took a reflective look at his life and ultimately concluded that the true meaning of life was simply to "fear God and keep His commandments"
(Eccl 12:13). Everything else was vanity and a "striving after wind". He advised that even if we were to lose everything in the world, we still have God who is all we really need.
No one knows for certain how many years God has granted each one of us. What is certain is that one day we will pass away. Paul's philosophy of life was simple: "if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord." Paul constantly wrote in his epistles how he did not fear death, how he considered his life and his possessions as refuse and how he longed to be with God. "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is
gain"(Phil 1:21). But he knew that God had a purpose for him in this world. As long as God's breath of life was in him, he had to preach and to fight the good fight. He endeavored to imitate Jesus and urged others to follow his example
(1 Cor 9:16-17). After his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul understood the true meaning of his life. He was motivated to honor and glorify his Savior through boldly preaching Him.
For the present, as we wait, we should live life judiciously and constantly examine and control the direction in our lives. We simply cannot afford to become complacent. If we find ourselves stuck in the doldrums, swift action needs to be taken. Thankfully, we are still living in a period of grace, but for how much longer? Bearing in mind that tomorrow is promised to no one, we should regard each new day as a gift from God and give thanks to Him.
We should consider the advice of King Solomon and Apostle Paul and resolve to live and devote each day for our Lord ?to fear, to obey, to glorify and to serve Him until the day we die or the day our Lord returns. Only then will we be living a meaningful life both beneficial and satisfying to ourselves but most importantly, acceptable to God.
Many people shudder at the mention of the word death. In fact, many people fear death because they fear the unknown and what will happen to them beyond life, as they know it. From a Christian's perspective, death should not be feared but embraced because the day has come when our Lord Jesus will gather us in His gentle arms and carry us into His heavenly kingdom. There is our final home, which
our Lord has lovingly prepared for us, to live a new life free from toil and suffering
(Jn 14:1-3). It is a world where tears are replaced with laughter, sorrow with joy, chaos with tranquility, war with peace, and hate with unconditional love. Although death ends our physical life on this earth, it is also the beginning of our eternal life with God in heaven.
Everyone will eventually die, that is a fact. The question is "ARE YOU READY"?