“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Psalm 39:4)
“Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.” (Jonathan Edwards)
We’re All Going to Die
Every now and then, we all have those moments that sober us to the fragile-ness of life. The sudden passing of a loved one, a near-death experience, or tragedy in the news can serve to shock us from our complacency and remind us that our existence isn’t fixed as firmly as we tend to believe. After all, we aren’t promised another day on this earth. Therefore, it’s important to stop, think about life, and consider what really matters. But I’m not sure we do this often enough.
Preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) resolved to think of his own death on a regular basis. After all, life in colonial America was hard. Disease was widespread and fear of death was always looming. Unlike our postmodern culture, the bleak realities of the 1700s compelled early American Christians, like Edwards, to think soberly about their lives and their standing before God. But regardless of where we are in history—whether the 1700s or 2000s—we all have this in common: we’re going to die. Therefore, we would be wise to take our cues from Edwards.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that we should become morbidly obsessed with death. Rather, I’m saying that we must live in light of eternity, routinely reminding our idolatry-prone hearts that we aren’t guaranteed our next breath. And, one way or another, we will all stand before a glorious and majestic Christ. What then will matter most to you?
A Holiday at The Sea
The Lord’s Day helps us here. The songs, sermons, Scripture readings, prayers, and ordinances we observe each week serve to form our character and kindle our affections for Christ. These things “Gospel” us out of our day-to-day delusions and equip us to die well. So that one day, on our deathbeds, we can say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Ti. 4:7).
However, this won’t happen all at once. No, the Lord’s Day works more like a crock pot than a microwave, slowly forming us in the glories of the Gospel. As we marinate in it again and again, the Good News gradually makes us surer and surer of what awaits us beyond life in this world. Our fickle hearts need that kind of regular re-exposure to the promises of God in order to remind us that He is the ultimate reality, not what is in our bank accounts or on our calendars. That’s why we come to church.
So, once and for all, let us resolve to say with the psalmist, “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Ps. 39:4). And let’s begin as we prepare for Sunday. We can’t afford not to. We are too easily satisfied with the status quo, carried about by every little distraction. Or as C.S. Lewis said,
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
Christ is much too beautiful for us to go about with our mud pies. And life is too short to spend in a Gospel-less slum. Instead, let’s resolve to do what we don’t do often enough—to remember the brevity of our lives and the indomitable, death-proof joy that is being offered to us in Jesus. If we will keep those things before us, we can be sure that the Good News of a dying, rising, and reigning Christ will thrill us out of our complacency this Lord’s Day. And every day for that matter. So, for you, what’s it going to be?
Liturgy for Sunday, August 23, 2015:
Call to Worship: Psalm 138:1-2
Confession & Assurance: Romans 6:9-14
Benediction: Jude 20-21