Last week, I officiated the funeral for a dear friend. Sue and I had known this kind Christian woman for many years. As I prayerfully prepared the message, the word “time” came to mind. Here are some of my thoughts.
Humans are time conscious. The ancient Egyptians tracked the sun with an elaborate system of strategies that included the stone circles at Nabta Playa and the Pyramids. Other civilizations kept time by using water clocks, candle clocks, the hour glass, and sundials. Today we have the Apple watch, atomic clocks, and the iPhone. Even people who are always late probably know exactly what time it is.
Time is very important in the Bible. Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) Solomon said, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3)
When we were children, time crawled. “Are we there yet??” As we get older, time flies. “Is it July already?” Two things date us: Fashions and kids. Just look at your pictures from 2002 (15 years ago!).
Our departed friend was born in 1938. Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. Bing Crosby and Artie Shaw were popular recording artists. Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio were featured in the All Star game. The world population was 2.2 billion. In 2017, the world population is estimated to be 7.2 billion and counting! The world has changed and the clock is ticking!
Time improves the body of a teen. But for adults, the clock of life makes everything sag. There are no exceptions. Botox, plastic surgery, and liposuction are temporary. It does not matter if you are rich or poor, buff or flabby, slim or fluffy, eventually, these bodies just wear out. The clock just keeps on ticking.
The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) You can deny that appointment, or ignore it, or complain about it, but we all have a rendezvous with death. Only God knows the time and place. The Psalmist David said, “The Lord knows the days of the upright.” (Psalm 37:18)
Some people avoid attending funerals. The service makes them uncomfortable. But others know that a funeral is part of life. It is an opportunity to consider our future, and to face our own mortality. As a birthday signals life begun, so a funeral signals life in transition.
Having been a credentialed minister for over 50 years, I have officiated many funerals. There are two common questions I am asked when someone dies.
The first question is, “Why did this have to happen?” When a loved one dies, we usually want to blame someone like the doctor or the hospital. But, the best doctors do not have all the answers. And even the most advanced medicines are limited. Bottom line: these bodies are temporal, finite, and time-based. Face the facts, the clock is ticking on everyone.
The second question is, “So, what happens after death?” Indeed, the answer to that question is up to you. By your own choice, you determine where you will spend eternity. As born-again Christians, we are comforted in Scripture with the promise, “absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) When a Christian dies, they close their eyes on earth, and immediately open them in the Presence of Jesus. In a blink of an eye everything changes!
Of course, you can ignore this message. You can scoff at the Scriptures, and avoid making any spiritual decision. But, no decision is actually a decision! And the clock keeps ticking.
This life is the waiting room for the next. Decisions are made here that influence the destination of our eternal soul. By inviting Christ into your heart and life, you settle your destiny for eternity. John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
What is your decision? The clock is ticking.