Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Death Changes Everything

A big word that kept coming my way last week is death. I don’t have time to read or listen to much at the moment, but when I did it kept reappearing one way or another.

What would you want on your tombstone?

We are going through ‘Crazy Love’ by Francis Chan in our home Bible study groups and the first question we were asked last week was, ‘What would you want to be on your tombstone?’ or in other words, ‘When you are dead, how do you want to be remembered?’

This is a big question and can really move you when you think about it seriously. It makes you start to think about what is really important in life.

My answer was that I would like to be remembered like Enoch, who 'walked with God.' Because really if you walk that closely to God then everything else in life should fall into the right place. I don't feel I'm very near that yet, but that is somewhere I'd love to get to.

Live in terms of the end

A few days ago I decided to start reading ‘Through Gates of Splendour’ to my son, the story of five missionaries who became martyrs while trying to take the gospel to a tribe in Ecuador. It quoted Jim Elliot as writing this to his parents:

‘There is no such thing as attainment in this life; as soon as one arrives at a long-coveted position he only jacks up his desire another notch or so and looks for higher achievement – a process which is ultimately suspended by the intervention of death… May the Lord teach us what it means to live in terms of the end, like Paul who said, ‘Neither count I my life dear unto myself, that I might finish my course with joy…’’

Jim Elliot and his fellow missionaries really lived that out, as they took a huge risk and didn't count their lives dear to themselves in attempting to reach the Auca Indians. They got killed, but through their deaths many lives were touched, and the gospel did get to that tribe. 

Death changes everything

Then on my ipod the other day while I was cooking dinner (isn’t it so cool that we can now have on-demand sermons delivered to our kitchen!!!) Alistair Begg was saying this:

‘There is nothing quite like death to bring clarity to the issues of life. Death changes everything’

All of this just served to reinforce a practice I have which is often to think through where I want to end up at the end of my life. Many people drift aimlessly along just doing things because everyone around them is doing them.

They go to university because all their college mates are going, they get married because they fall in love and it’s the thing to do, and so on. But I think there is a real lack of people thinking about where they want to go.

As Christians we shouldn’t only be thinking about what we want to have accomplished at the end of our lives, but about eternity. What do we want to have done when we stand before God, and when everything in this world has perished?

What would we do differently if we knew we only had a day, a month, or a year left of our lives? Would we regret the thousands of hours spent watching TV? (Not that you shouldn't watch TV - but there is an awful lot of time spent in front of it!)

It is good for us to do what Jim Elliot said and live in terms of the end.

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. ' Ecclesiastes 7:2

What would you like to have accomplished at the end of your life, or what would you want on your tombstone?

Linking up to On Your Heart Tuesdays and Solo Deo Gloria


Genevieve Thul said...

This is something I've thought about a LOT as I was diagnosed with cancer at 28 when my youngest of 4 was just 8 weeks old. It radically changed my life. Almost 5 years later, I live completely differently now. In fact, I am STILL writing about it, almost every day. My priorities are completely changed. I don't care a wit about a perfectly kept house, my to-do list, or even getting all my work done these days. The smile on my kids faces, small joys noticed and given thanks for, relationships. That's what matters. Spending time with Christ and truly living for him. You might like to read my post today about being a recovering perfectionist - http://www.turquoisegates.com/2012/11/the-reforming-pessimist.html. Anyway - loved the quotes you shared and just wanted to say YES I think about this. Don't have all the answers - but it's definitely on my mind. (stopped over from A Pause on the Path today)

Rhoda said...

Thanks for sharing Genevieve. I hope that I can learn from you and live that way too. And I was so glad to go to your blog and see that you are in remission.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

This is an excellent post and death does change everything. Dave, my husband, died thirteen months ago and my life has changed dramatically. God used me to lead Dave to Christ only five days before he died so there's comfort even among the unrelenting pain. The death of a spouse has been far, far more horrendous than the death of a grandparent, cousin, aunt, uncle, friend. Dave was my provider and protector and now I'm adrift as I navigate uncharted, too deep waters. God is faithful and He is good yet He has used the pain to mark me as His own in a way, heretofore, unknown to me.

Rhoda said...

Wow that's great that you could lead your husband to Christ, but I'm so sorry that he died - you must really miss him. I can't imagine what it must be like. I will pray for you that God gives you comfort, strength and wisdom for those deep waters.

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