Do you read the obituaries?
I only get the newspaper on Saturdays and Sundays, but I do find the death notices and skim each one. Maybe it's a sign of getting older myself? I usually note the age of the person listed and, if it's mentioned, the circumstances surrounding his or her passing . . . a brief illness, a long battle with cancer, a car accident.
Recently, several in my circles have lost spouses, siblings, or parents. When I heard the news, I felt the same way as when I walk to the cemetery and happen to see a fresh grave with flowers laid on top. It saddens me. A life lived. A life gone . . . so quickly. Reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes where the writer talks about the vanity of a life that is soon snuffed out.
The melancholy part of me grieves. I feel unsettled . . . and vulnerable.
There's a little phrase tucked in one of Paul's sermons in Acts 13 that I go back to often. It offers hope and focus, especially when, in our more human moments, we might be tempted to wonder, "What's the point if we all die and after a while nobody remembers us anyway?"
Here's the verse: "David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers . . ." (Verse 36).
Did you see it? Yes, David lived and died, but he also served God's purpose in his own generation! He was a man after God's heart who gave himself to his contemporaries in multiple ways . . . from caring for the family's flock of sheep to governing the nation of Israel. He wasn't perfect, yet with intention, he fulfilled God's purposes for him and those under his influence.
So the next time we read the obituaries in the paper, let them remind us of David's example. A worthy goal. A noble aspiration that sheds a whole new light on life and death.