Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
A while ago I came across the poem by Dylan Thomas Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. As it has been not so long since my father’s death, (When there’s a Hole in Your Holiday, November 29th post), it made me wonder about death. The author of the poem urges people to fight against death. Cling to the “light” of life and do not let it die out.
On the other hand, we are told by our world that death is just another natural part of life. Someday, everyone will die. As a result, while it may be tragic and heart wrenching, eventually everyone needs to accept it and move on.
I am a Christian and I know what will happen after I die. I know that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for my sins and assures me, through faith, of an eternal home in heaven. I am looking forward to that. In fact, there are those Christians who wish everyday they could leave this world to be with their Savior in heaven. To be honest, the times I feel that way is when my life feels out of control and I just want to get away.
I look back now at my father and wonder how he looked at life and death. He seemed always grateful for his life and I know he too had faith in the promise of heaven. The past few years, I watched as his age took a toll on his physical health. It bothered him that he could not help my mother with various tasks.
The last month and a half of his life was spent between the hospital and nursing home. He never mentioned wanting to die. In fact, he fought hard to do whatever he could to improve his health to a point to be able to return home. In fact, the day he died he was getting ready to go home as he appeared to be on the mend. However, I never heard him say anything about the fact that death was coming and he might as well accept it as simply a part of his life here on earth.
So I looked to the only source of real truth–the Word of God, the Bible. And what I found was:
Death was not a part of God creation.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. . . . God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. In the beginning God created life. The world was full of it–in the plants, animals and humans. And God said all that he created was good.
Death became part of this world because of sin.
And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Selected verses Genesis chapters 1-2. But then came the sin and death. Both were introduced by humans into the world and I, along with every person ever born, keeps the sin alive. So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, so also death spread to all people because all sinned. Romans 5:12.
So why is this important for me to know? Does it really make a difference if death is just a natural part of life or not?
For me, I find reminders of both the Gospel and my mission here on earth. The Gospel tells of the love of Jesus to me because of my sins. God created life as a gift to all people and as a means thank and praise him for that gift. All life is precious to him and should be to me also.
This begins with the life God has given me. As long as he allows me to live and breathe, he has something for me to do for him. When I come to the end of that list, he will take me to be with him in heaven. I am writing this on the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. That in itself stands as example of how little our world treasures and respects life. And now, that same philosophy of convenience in judging the worth of life has expanded to older people.
However, I need to keep focused on what God has placed me here to do for him. I may be torn like Paul was when I think about life here on earth as opposed to heaven. Yes, for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to go on living in the flesh, that will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet which should I prefer? I do not know. I am pulled in two directions, because I have the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. Philippians 1:21-23. No matter how bad I think my life is going, I am still here and as Paul said, there is good I can still do for God. He will take me home when my place is totally prepared.
As wonderful of a blessing my life is, even more striking is the need for me to remember why death is part of this world. I cannot forget that sin, my sin, separates me from God. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear, Isaiah 59:2. That separation means death results in my going to hell.
That is why the Gospel message shines so clearly as I think about death. Jesus came to do what I could never accomplish. He lived that perfect life and then died in my place to pay for all of my sins. As ugly as death is, there is no finality because of Jesus.
But there are billions in this world who still see death as a simple part of life. It is not a consequence of sin and is just the end of life. They all need to know about life in Jesus and his love for them. And as long as I am around, I want to tell them. It’s a matter of life or death.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back. I will wait you.
As I said, I do not really like to think about death. So, this song talks about my purpose for life.