When I was ten, death had no sting. Days stretched long; I lived in the moment. The table was set, my needs always met. Mom was a friend; dad was provider. Each day had a sparkle. My dog whispered council. Troubles were brief, worries but passing. I lived, I breathed; my life was the moment.
At twenty, I knew that I would live forever. Basketball, fast cars, river trips, and marriage; nothing on earth could hinder or stop me. Drink a few beers; repair a car. Dance through the night, living on love. A woman, a beauty, a heart full of gold, she bears my children; she holds my soul.
Then came thirty, the prime of my life. Working with joy, career on the rise. My talents, my skills, they are certain and sure. Some troubles have come, and others have passed. Nothing can stop me; no mountain can last. In my own power, my victories arise. A mountain I climb, a river I swim. It is I; it is I, I master it all. The woman is near; she stays by my side, but it is I, it is I, I master it all.
Then slides in forty; I’m at the top of the hill. All that I need, all that I ask, I gather myself though a power within. I master my world; I am king for a day. People hear when I speak; they acknowledge my voice. Power, authority, I wield them with might. I have the knowledge; I have the skill. They need me; they want me; I am king for a day. A storm is coming, but my hearing is dull. The woman, my sidekick, not so important as I. Pride reaps a victim, but I cannot see. The darkness of self slowly closes our mind.
At fifty, I open my eyes in a prison. The power is gone; my marriage in ruins. The woman, my sidekick, still barely hangs on. We are like a blade of grass fading in the wind; we wake, we play, we earn, we lose. It passes so quickly, and misses so much. That ten year old boy for whom death had no sting seems every so gone, so far in the past.
I’m nearing now sixty, time narrows the path. The years they accumulate, they now make a day. The joys are mingled, the bitterness of sorrow mixed in the cup. The time behind bars once long is now brief. Walks in the park, a glorious job, my woman’s lips are moments that once clung to a clock, but now they are but grains of sand in a heap, not numbered, not separated, and not bearing a mark. The years they have faded; dry leaves in the past, they rustle, crackle, and mix with the dust. My woman, not a sidekick, remains now my wife, a partner, a blessing, and a gift in my life. All that the devil would have claimed, God has given back again. It is not I; it is not I; it is God who prevails. It is not I; it is not I; it is God is my strength. It is not I; it is not I; it is God who sets the table by which my needs are all met. Praise him, adore him, and exalt him by name.
Days Are Numbered
In the book of Jeremiah, chapter nine, and verse twenty-five, we are told that wise me should not glory in wisdom, that mighty men should not glory in power, and that rich men should not glory in riches. If we will glory, we are told, we should glory in the knowledge that we know who is the LORD, and that we live in his love, his kindness, his justice, and his righteousness.
Men, if not careful, will live in their own shadow. This should never be. Live not in the past, for it is finished. Live not in the future, for it may never come. Live in the moment, close to God, looking always to him for wisdom, strength, and joy. He shall never fail. Be kind to others. Seek to win the lost. Love your wife even as you love yourself. Fear not the sting of death. Our days are numbered. Let he who does the counting worry about tomorrow.
Death Has No Sting
Of years we have been promised, seventy on average:
“10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away,” (Psalm 90:10).
Yet more we may add by honoring our parents:
“16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee,” (Deuteronomy 5:16).
Even more we may know by living for God:
“14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation,” (Psalm 91:14-16).