ARE YOU READY TO DIE?
Moira Shek, Elgin,
“…and he died instantly…”
These unforgettable words come
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 and tranquil life
than once 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 be also be death.
Death is a certainty that no one can prevent from happening, although the actual
time is 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
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 don’t 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 myself and my life 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 persona 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 hunk-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,
is it 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 though in mind, he is
killed as he hits the ground at 100 mph. The other skydivers know 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 a
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; “time
waits for no man”. What if we gain the whole world, yet realize too late, that
we have forfeited our soul? No compensations 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. (Luke
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 many goods
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 the material world that he did not think to lay up
treasure 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 may 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 serves as a
sharp reminder of how a diversity may strike as 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
generation (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 ever-thing 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 ). 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 to 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 ). But
he knew that God has 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 -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
our life. 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 geared 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’?