We all need to take to heart the well-rehearsed injunction of the iconic swordsman, Iñigo Montoya, to the six-fingered man: “Prepare to die!” One way to apply this sage advice is to craft a nifty epitaph for your tombstone. This prevents eccentric relatives with a penchant for rhyming from composing one of these actual examples:
- Shakespeare: ‘Blessed be he who leaves these stones and cursed be he who moves my bones.’ It is a travesty that the late Bard lies under any prose other than iambic pentameter.
- In Silver City cemetery, Nevada: ‘Here lies Butch. We planted him raw. He was quick on the trigger but slow on the draw.’
- 1880 Nantucket Massachusetts. ‘Under the sod and under the trees lies the body of Jonathan Pease. He is not here, there’s only the pod, Pease shelled out and went to God.’
- Boothill Cemetery Tombstone Arizona, ‘Here lies Les Moore, 4 slugs from a 44. No less, no more.’
Another way to prepare to die is to ponder the wisdom of Psalm 49.
- THE UNIVERSAL NEED TO PREPARE TO DIE
According to the CIA World Factbook 28 of the 29 countries with life expectancies of 60 or less are in Sub-Saharan Africa, where I live. Yikes. There are 40 countries boasting octogenarians as their average (Monaco tops the list at 90!). Life expectancy in the USA is 80 (or by reason of pills and procedures 85). But, sadly, there is no nation on earth known for its immortality. The death rate worldwide still holds steady at 100% (Elijah and Enoch notwithstanding).
Ps 90 says it matter-of-factly… “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 is this bad news?
For a believer death is an exciting reality, and shouldn’t make us avoid the topic, because death is not the end of anything, it is the beginning of eternity.
Pre-tribulational rapture views aside, I think it’s prudent for us all to prepare for the inescapable eventuality of departing this life suddenly. Today is the only moment you have been guaranteed in order to make decisions that affect forever. There are no second chances.
- WASTED EFFORTS AS YOU PREPARE TO DIE
From this Psalm we see two wasted efforts:
Material success doesn’t help in your spiritual life. Ps 49:5 Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life.
Financial investments are fine until you realize they outlast you (or worse, you outlast them!). Christians understand that we leave our wealth behind. We don’t build pyramids like the Pharaohs of Egypt, stocked with gold to shop with and honey to snack on in the afterlife. Our hearses don’t pull trailers. But do we live like we believe that?
How should we spend our time and money in light of that fact? Many people put more effort planning where their wealth goes when they die than where their soul goes! Just remember what J D Rockefeller’s accountant said when a curious funeral attendee asked how much the millionaire magnate left to his family: “Why, all of it, of course.”
Another futile effort we invest in while alive is earthly recognition.
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Source: Prepare to Die | Clint Archer