SWEET LONGINGS FOR MY DEATH-DAY…
“After David had done the will of God in his own generation, he DIED and was buried“Acts 13:36, NLT
Actually, I just returned from a naming ceremony. And somehow, I “happened to be” (bad English) one of the officiating ministers…lol. I wasn’t the preacher. I only read the scriptures when instructed and prayed when told to do so. But, as usual, I had a crazy thought. Guess what?
If I was given the opportunity to preach, guess what I would have preached about? You kinda guessed right: DEATH! *That won’t be a nice topic at a naming ceremony, but somehow, I’m sure it would be a BLESSING to all!*
And thank God I have this platform to keep expressing myself to as many as are willing to listen. Really, THANKS FOR STOPPING OVER TO CHECK OUT THIS NOTE. I’m glad that my few thoughts and those of others that I ponder and reshare are touching lives one way or the other.
Death is Real!
A friend asked me a couple of days ago (before I penned these words)“Hey, how are you doing?”And I replied “I’m cool; LIFE is getting more beautiful;and DEATH is tip-toeing nearer.”Now, I can imagine the look on your face as you read those last five words of my response—a look similar to my friend’s when he heard the same words. And he asked me “why are you thinking about death at this age?” You can guess my reply. “Why are you NOT thinking about death?”
Let’s face it, folks, life is not the only reality that is, death is as real as life! Death is actually a very real part of life!
Yeah, Life is good and we all get to be “aware” of it sometime. For me, though, by the time I knew what LIFE is, I was neck-deep in it already. I’d toddler-walked and talked in tongues only mama understood. I’d gurgled and giggled my way out of diapers and into childhood.I’d come to notice how guys aren’t gals and dogs aren’t cats and one fifty-naira note sure beats two ten-naira notes.
And then, somewhere in the midst of it all, LIFE hit me…again and again!First, when my eldest brother headed for youth service in the north. Then at my grandpa’s funeral.And again at my sister’s wedding.And again…and again…and again! I came to realize that my days are more than first-position report cards, writing poems, and praying out my first pimple. This is LIFE,and here is mine! Complete with holidays and songs and moonlight tales and tears, I have a life. I didn’t request one, but I have one. And no one else has my version.
And, don’t you think that the memory of my first day should make me ponder my final day? By the way, that’s life—a first day;a final day;and a few thousand in between.As soon as one day is lived, voilà, here comes another. Life is racing by, and if I’m not careful, death will come to me suddenly without good enough plans to meet it.But that’s too late a probability… The suddenness of death will not—CANNOT—hinder my happiness…because I’m prepared for it.
How? I’ve learnt two lessons:
- Death is not the end
- This earth is not my home
DEATH IS NOT THE END…
Elizabeth Jennings penned these words: “Do not suppose that I do not fear death because I trust that“it is not the end.” You say it must be a great comfort to live with such a faith, but you don’t know the way I battle on this earth with faults of character . . .”
To her, death “is not the end”; rather, it’s the deliverance from the “battle on this earth”. And interestingly, she shares God’s viewpoint! From God’s viewpoint, death is not permanent. It is a necessary step for passing from this world to the next. It’s not an end; it’s a beginning. It is a small price to pay for the favour of being with Him forever.
“Flesh and blood cannot have a part in the kingdom of God. . . . This body that can be destroyed must clothe itself with something that can never be destroyed. And this body that DIES must clothe itself with something that CAN NEVER DIE” (1 Corinthians 15:50, 53).
So, when we see death, we see tragedy. But, when God sees death, He sees deliverance.
THIS EARTH IS NOT MY HOME…
The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realize, is to feel ourselves to be home on earth. As long as we are aliens, we cannot forget our true homeland.
We all long for more than earth. There’s something in us, if we’ll be sincere with ourselves, that makes us yearn for something beyond this earth! When we see pain, when we see hunger, we yearn! Senseless deaths,endless tears, needless loss—where do they come from? Where will they lead? They all make us want to ask “Isn’t there more to life than death?”
The scripture answered with a two-sided truth coin: “you were not made for this place” and that“there is a place made just for you”.
Unhappiness on earth cultivates our hunger for heaven. By embellishing us with a mystifying discontentment, God gets and holds our attention. The only tragedy, then, is to be satisfied prematurely. To settle for this earth.To be content in a strange land.To intermarry with the Babylonians and forget Jerusalem.
We are not happy here because we are not at home here. We are not happy here because we are not supposed to be happy here (in the Godliest sense of the word). We are “like foreigners and strangers in this world” (1 Peter 2:11).
Max Lucado suggested this: Take a fish and place him on the beach. Watch his gills gasp and scales dry. Is he happy? No! How do you make him happy? Do you cover him with a mountain of cash? Do you get him a beach chair and sunglasses? Do you bring him a Playfish magazine and martini? Do you wardrobe him in double-breasted fins and people-skinned shoes?Of course not. Then how do you make him happy? You put him back in his element. You put him back in the water. He will never be happy on the beach simply because he was not made for the beach.
And you will never be completely happy on earth simply because you were not made for earth. Oh, you will have your moments of joy. You will catch glimpses of light. You will know moments or even days of peace. But they simply do not compare with the happiness that lies ahead.
Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.
Don’t be deceived, rest on this earth is a false rest. Beware of those who urge you to find happiness here; you won’t find it. Guard against the false physicians who promise that joy is only a diet away, a marriage away, a job away, or a transfer away. The prophet denounced people like this, “They tried to heal my people’s serious injuries as if they were small wounds. They said, ‘It’s all right, it’s all right.’ But really, it is not all right” (Jer. 6:14).And it won’t be all right until we get home.
Again, we have our moments. The newborn on our breast, the bride on our arm, the sunshine on our back. But even those moments are simply slivers of light breaking through heaven’s window. God flirts with us. He tantalizes us. He romances us. Those moments are appetizers for the dish that is to come.
“No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
What a breathtaking verse! Do you see what it says? Heaven is beyond our imagination. We cannot envision it. At our most creative moment, at our deepest thought, at our highest level, we still cannot fathom eternity.
Again, Lucado suggests: Try this. Imagine a perfect world. Whatever that means to you, imagine it. Does that mean peace? Then envision absolute tranquility. Does a perfect world imply joy? Then create your highest happiness. Will a perfect world have love? If so, ponder a place where love has no bounds. Whatever heaven means to you, imagine it. Get it firmly fixed in your mind. Delight in it. Dream about it. Long for it.
And then smile as the Father reminds you, No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.
Anything you imagine is inadequate. Anything anyone imagines is inadequate. No one has come close. No one. Think of all the songs about heaven. All the artists’ portrayals.All the lessons preached, poems written, and chapters drafted.When it comes to describing heaven, we are all happy failures. It’s beyond us.
But it’s also within us. It’s that melody that our spirits keep echoing—a reminder: you were not made for this place and there is a place made just for you.
But until then, be realistic. Lower your expectations of earth. This is not heaven, so don’t expect it to be. There will never be a newscast with no bad news. There will never be a church with no gossip or competition. There will never be a new car, new wife, or new baby who can give you the joy your heart craves. Only God can.
So, how do you prepare in the mean time?
The same way you prepare to get to your destination when on a flight: TRUST THE PILOT. Just trust. Just believe. …whosoever BELIEVETH in Him should not perish. Believe the finished work of Christ. And believe the Bible that told us about Him. The Bible is the story of two gardens. Eden and Gethsemane. In the first, Adam took a fall. In the second, Jesus took a stand. In the first, God sought Adam. In the second, Jesus sought God. In Eden, Adam hid from God. In Gethsemane, Jesus emerged from the tomb. In Eden, Satan led Adam to a tree that led to his death. From Gethsemane, Jesus went to a tree that led to our life. Believe in Him and share in His life.
He has gone to prepare you a place in His paradise where you will be included. A sinless sanctuary.A haven before fear. A home before there was a human dweller. No time. No death. No hurt. A gift built by God for his ultimate creation. A gift already received by many through the vehicle of death!
So, from God’s viewpoint, death is not to be dreaded; it is to be welcomed—it is nothing more than an entrance ramp to a new highway.
And finally, Dear Believer, stop being alarmed by the unexpected summons of death of fellow believers. And in the mean time, be in the fear of the Lord all the day long…for we are in theshadows of the evening… (Jeremiah 6:4)!