I Know Where I Am Going

This will probably be the final posting in my blog. In terms of my health things have settled down. No more treatments or major procedures, just blood tests every three months and periodic body scans.

 The other evening as I was trying to recuperate from a day of moving patio stones and hauling buckets of sand I turned on TV to be distracted by mindless drivel. As I was watching, I saw a senseless, arbitrary act of violence that ended someone’s life. I began to think about the shortness of life, it’s uncertainty, and what brings meaning to life. I began to feel a little uncomfortable about death and leaving my family behind and wondering what their memories of me would be. The show continued and I got caught up in that and left those profound thoughts behind.

I was bothered a little bit though, until the next morning when God provided the encouragement my soul needed. Together Karen and I read the Bible through every year. That morning’s reading had Psalm 49 and 84.

 Psalm 49:5  Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me? 6  They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. 7  Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. 8  Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough 9  to live forever and never see the grave. 10  Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind. 11  The grave is their eternal home, where they will stay forever. They may name their estates after themselves, 12  but their fame will not last. They will die, just like animals. 13  This is the fate of fools, though they are remembered as being wise. 14  Like sheep, they are led to the grave, where death will be their shepherd. In the morning the godly will rule over them. Their bodies will rot in the grave, far from their grand estates. 

 You can see that the first verses could really make a person kind of despondent. All that talk about the finality of death, leaving everything behind, names and possessions being lost. Even the phrase that death will be their shepherd is kind of scary. But that is just one side of the picture. The Psalm ends speaking about the condition of those who are trusting in God.

 15  But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave. Interlude 16  So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid. 17  For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. 18  In this life they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success. 19  But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day. 20  People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals. 

 Rather than having death is their shepherd, God snatches them from the power of the grave. The psalmist then goes on to make the contrast between those who have no hope because they have no God and those who are trusting in Him and who know the Lord is their shepherd.

 The next Psalm in the reading was 84. Here is just an overwhelmingly positive and encouraging picture of the hope and joy that God brings to the death of those who trust him.

Limon Menu 07_edited.jpg Psalm 84:1  How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2  My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3  Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. 4  Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! 5  Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6  As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7  They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 8  O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah 9  Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 10  For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11  For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12  O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! 

 He starts by reminding us that we will have an eternal home. A glorious and wonderful place better than anything we could even dream of. There is encouragement that even if the process of death is hard, He will be with us and be our strength. Regarding all the things that we will leave behind we are encouraged to remember that a day in the presence of God is better than thousands elsewhere. Even if our role was just as a gatekeeper in the presence of God, it’s better than experiencing a wealthy but wicked life style. But an even better thought is that when I am in Heaven I will not be there as a gatekeeper but as a child of God. My certainty and hope is not based on a whim of God or my good works, position, or wealth; but is rooted in trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God who paid the price of my guilt and punishment and gave me new life and freedom from the slavery of sin.