Two Final Things, Then Home at Last
by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D.Min.
City Director, C.S. Lewis Institute - Washington, D.C.
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Surely for nothing they arde in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you. (Ps. 39:4–8)
Unlike David, most of us do not ponder the brevity of our lives or think about death, especially our own. But doing so can be healthy for our spiritual life and has been a common practice of great spiritual leaders and godly people through the centuries. Benedict of Nursia told his monks, “Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die. Hour by hour keep careful watch over all you do, aware that God’s gaze is upon you, wherever you may be.”3 Thomas à Kempis counseled,
Very quickly there will be an end of thee here; look for what will become of thee in another world . . . Oh, how wise and happy is he that now labors to be such a one in this life, as he wishes to be found at the hour of his death.4
Such recollections can help us stay grounded in reality, live a life that is pleasing to God, and give us great confidence as we contemplate the future.
You may want to consider the following simple exercise. Quietly ponder what you would like to be true of you at the time of your death. Your list might include a clear and firm grasp of God’s grace; assurance of salvation; intimacy with God, a morally upright life and works of love toward those in need; loving relationships with family and friends; and peaceful, reconciled relationships with others. Once you have identified your top priorities, begin making the changes that will characterize you at your life’s end, relying on the Holy Spirit to help you carry out your intentions. This simple exercise, consistently pursued over time and in prayerful dependence on God, can have profound effects. When your time comes, you will be much better able to face death with confidence and peace.
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