The anthropologist Ernest Becker wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Denial of Death,” “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is the mainspring of human activity – activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying…that it is the final destiny.”
You might say we are dead set on denying death. The statistics on death, however, remain steady. One out of every one person dies. Someone once said all the wars and pandemics have not raised the death toll even by one, for every person eventually dies. Isn’t it ironic that the one thing we ought to be talking the most about we scarcely mention until its upon us?
The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes challenges us to do something none of us want to do, touch death. He does this by presenting us with a mirage of images depicting the imminent demise of a great man. You can read about it in Ecclesiastes 12:1-8. Some day the silver chord snaps for all of us, and the golden bowl comes smashing down to the ground and becomes irreparable. Once the soul leaves the perishable body to go back to God, you can’t put it back.
Despite the imminent, the Preacher has some death-bed wisdom to pass on to us, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1).” Before advanced old age and death come upon you, remember your Creator. Learn to enjoy what your Creator has given you. Stop looking at the created world as the raw material for you to leverage for your own personal gain. The Preacher did this much of his life. Yet, in his clearest moments, when the clouds no longer obstructed his view, he found pleasure in the simplest things in life: eating, drinking, relationships. In those moments, it was not what he could get out of this world but what he could receive as a gift.
Parents, embrace your children affectionately every day, especially when they are being a pip. Love your relatives, even the ones hard to love. Husbands and wives, make time just to enjoy being in each other’s presence, like you did when you were dating. Cherish the givenness of things and stop trying so hard to make yourself something. Embrace, also, your Savior, who makes all these things sweeter. Your Creator has given you the length of an entire life to receive these gifts. If you tarry today, what is to say you will do so tomorrow?