I found these words from Jimmy Needham about death and couldn’t resist sharing. So. True.
“I consider myself to be something of a student of pop-culture. I try to stay up to speed with the latest trends, songs, clothing etc. I like having a pulse on where my generation is at so I can be more equipped to contextualize the gospel for them. Lately I’ve noticed a trending topic in Top 40 radio. I suppose it’s always a topic of interest but a number of huge songs over the past few months have built their theme around one thing. Have you noticed too? See if you can spot it:
“Tonight we are young/ So lets set the world on fire/ We can burn brighter than the sun/” (We Are Young ft. Janelle Monet)
“So what we go out/ That’s how it’s supposed to be/ Living young and wild and free/” (Young, Wild & Free ft. Bruno Mars)
“Let’s go all the way tonight/ No regrets, just love/ We can dance until we die/ You and I, we’ll be young forever/” (Teenage Dream by Katy Perry)
It’s interesting to me reading these lines, how short sighted we can be as a culture. “You and I will be young forever”? Uh…false. Katy Perry is gonna be wrinkly old lady one day who needs assistance to use the bathroom, if she can hold it that long. She’ll probably be eating prunes and watching reruns of “All My Children” and arguing with the characters out loud in her living room. Then she will die. And there in death she, as well as everyone else, will stand before a thrice holy God to give account for all things done while in the body. I wonder if she thinks about her death ever. I wonder how that might change her songs. I wonder if it would cause us to sing a different tune as well.
There’s nothing as sobering as death. Our own death. It waits there at the end of our days, a giant “period” hungry to finish the all too brief sentence of our life. It’s all we can do some days to avoid thinking about it. Funny, because that’s exactly what the Bible tells us not to do.
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Ps. 39:4-5)
All through the books of Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes we are challenged not to run from thoughts of our death, but to meditate on them. But why? Why meditate on something so morbid? What benefit could it generate? God provides a very clear reason why in a psalm: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away…So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10 & 12)
We are to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom. Wisdom is a big theme of much of the Bible. It’s a very pregnant word packed with so much meaning, but if I could give a quick definition I would say wisdom is having your thoughts and actions dramatically impacted by a desire to reflect God’s character in this earth. Wisdom isn’t intelligence, though it engages the intellect. It is rather seeing one’s intellect washed by a view of God’s holy standards, His love for righteousness, His distain of all things vile and corruptible. And you and I can acquire this simply by meditating on our own mortality. You see, when you realize that you won’t, in fact, be young forever, you begin to reassess your priorities. There’s an old adage about acting in futility that goes, “doing (X) is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.” We understand what this means. A sinking ship is no place to be concerned with how the amenities look! Those chairs will be at the bottom of the ocean in a few short hours. Much better to focus on getting folks into life-rafts than tending to deck chairs.
These bodies are like the Titanic. They are all sinking. You’ve heard the ultimate statistic haven’t you? 100% of humans die. It’s true. I looked it up J. If we can but realize that we are just moments away from our eternity, how might that impact what we are doing today? Would it change your priorities? Are there things you are involved in that seem like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic when you think of them in light of your death? I bet there are. That’s why we must do what the Bible says and number our days.
My mentor Ben once told me, “if you ever want to gain perspective on your life, go have a devotional in a grave yard”. I took him up on that challenge in high school. I sat next to a boy that was born the same year as me. He didn’t make it past 14. It was such a sobering moment, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I know now that at best I have about 60 more years to go. I want these next years to count for something more than living “young, wild & free”, don’t you? Don’t waste your days. Join King David and countless saints before and after him who learned the art of numbering their days so that you too might gain a heart of wisdom.”