It is often said that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. However, you can still avoid taxes. Indeed the ultimate tax avoidance scheme is surely death!
Why write some thoughts about death during this happy seasonal time of year? Because death is no respecter of our calendars, holidays, plans or presumptions.
Today at 1.52pm my friend’s mum died. Very very sad. She was not terminally ill or elderly. She had been celebrating Christmas and presumably making plans for 2012 only days earlier. Yet her ‘days’ finished this afternoon. Unexpected, unannounced, unintentional and unwanted.
Two days earlier a teenager died outside the Foot Locker store in Oxford Street. Unconfirmed suggestions are that it was the climax to an argument over a new pair of trainers. Different cause but same result. Today North Korea buried Kim Jong-Il. He died at 69 years of age. Different cause but same result. We will all die.
Last week I finished reading the book called One Day. The novel follows the lives of two people and does this by re-visiting them every year on the same date. The author stated that the idea came from a book by Thomas Hardy. There is a passage in one of Hardy’s novel in which a woman gazes at herself in the mirror and a shiver runs down her spine at the thought that perhaps this is the date on which she’ll die. She realizes that while we mark the date of our birthday each year, we also unwittingly go through the anniversary of our death time after time.
Unwittingly the reader does not appreciate that the date chosen in One Day is later to become the anniversary of one of the main character’s death. And how does the author choose to record that moment?
Then Emma Mayhew dies, and everything that she thought or felt vanishes and is gone. forever.
As quick, clinical and unexpected as that! Death can be like that. It is certain that there is a date with death out there for us all. Yet how many of us seem to give any considered thought to the certainty of our death, and more importantly what follows that. Perhaps more of us can give time and thought to the avoidance of taxes than the acceptance of death. Or perhaps we are more obsessed or pre-occupied by shoes, sales, savings and the opposite sex.
The Bible teaches that all of us will die and after that face judgement by God. The issue will then be whether we are relying on our life in that encounter, or whether we are relying on Jesus’ death to be the game-changer. We are told that only one will really count. Only one will remove the sting of death.
Which one are we relying on? Is it the deeds in our fragile transient life, or the deeds of the indestructible life of Christ Jesus who defeated death so that we might live.
I thank God that for my friend’s mum she had placed her life, and also her inevitable death, into the indestructible hope and security that is found within the life and death of Jesus.
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8