bits from bob....

Teach Us To Number Our Days

by Robert J. Young
July 1, 2003
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

I'm thinking today about funerals. I spent 27 months in my first full-time work in Dierks, Arkansas. I officiated or helped with 27 funerals in that time. Many of the Bible verses I first memorized in ministry were those used at funerals. I officiated at one funeral with three people present--the funeral director, a friend of the deceased, and myself. I officiated at a Thanksgiving Day funeral with a drunken funeral director who fell into the grave as he led the casket to the church cemetery. At another funeral, we dug the grave after we arrived at the cemetery. I wish now that I had a more complete record of the many funerals with which I have helped through the years.

A favorite funeral text is Psalm 90. I have often asked at funerals, "Why did God arrange this life so we have to die?" Two persons described in Scripture were translated and did not see death--Enoch and Elijah. Still there was separation and finality. Why do we have to die? Why have funerals? Obviously, funerals are for the living. What lessons might we learn?

Learn that life is precious. Each day has a number. When a day closes, I am one day closer to eternity. I must use my time wisely (Eph. 5:16). It is easy to use life up with no gain or benefit. When all is said and done, in some cases, nothing is done. May God help me do something with my life.

Learn that life is short. When I number my days, I remember the reality of death and the brevity of life. The wisdom literature declares that I will go in a few days down the path from which I cannot return.

Learn wisdom. What matters in life? Death reminds us that much of what seems so important as we live matters not at all when we die. We enter the world with no physical goods, we likewise leave.

Learn the importance of memories. All that will remain of my life after I die is memory. Others will remember, but only briefly. A life invested in others is remembered; a life lived selfishly hardly at all.

Learn the significance of eternity. Life continues after death. Death is as a door in a continuing existence. For this reason, life is a time of getting ready. Hezekiah was told, Prepare to die. Good advice, even if we do not know the exact time. Whether a life is measured by the threescore and ten or more, eternity is closer than we think.

We die. God made it so. We can learn--life is precious and short, wisdom, memories, eternity. What are you learning?

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Last updated July 1, 2003.