“We spend our years as a tale that is told.” (Psalm 90:9)
One day, long ago, when I was living in Hong Kong, I was grieving the loss of a dear missionary friend. I remember the instant very vividly today, even though it happened at least fifty years ago. I was standing in my little kitchen, and thinking about the shortness of life. My friend was around fifty years of age. We had worked together in the church; she was the pianist, I was the organist and the choir director. And now she was gone! Just at that moment, the words of Moses, who had lived to be one hundred and fifty years of age, came to my heart, “We spend our years as a tale that is told.” I will never forget it!
Our lives are like a storybook. Some are short, others have many pages; some are adventurous, others are dull, humdrum, and uninteresting — they never see anything of this beautiful world, except the sky, the trees, and buildings around them — nor do they care to see more. Some are filled with sadness and rejection, others have known much joy and great love; some take delight in wounding people, others give their lives for the healing of people’s bodies and souls. No two lives are the same. But all have one thing in common, one day they will return to the dust out of which they are made, as Moses said, “You turn men back into dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men'” (Psalm 90:3 NIV), and as God, Himself said to Adam and Eve, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19).
We ask ourselves, “What is the use of living? Do I only live to toil, suffer, and then die? Is there nothing for me after my body is put in the grave, or (God forbid) cremated in fire, and turned to ashes (as I have watched the Hindus burn their dead on the banks of the Ganges River)? I remember turning away in horror at the sight of the fat from their bodies, dripping off the ends of their fingers in drops of hot human oil! Right there and then, I knew that when I die, I want to be laid back into the dust. It is the substance out of which I was created, and it will receive me back into its bosom.
But, what about the rest of me? That was only my body! My spirit is the breath of God, and He will take it back to Himself, as is written in Ecclesiastes 12:5-7, when describing old age, and death, “Man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets [funeral procession]; or ever the silver cord [of life] be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, [of life], or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust [out of which our bodies were made] return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
I am a created trinity, for I have been made in His image and likeness, and God is a Triune Being — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I am, therefore, also created with three “me’s” — body, soul, and spirit. We know what will happen to the body, (unless it is glorified and taken to Heaven like Enoch and Elijah), and we have learned that the spirit goes back to God; but what about the other part of me, the part that makes me what and who I am — my soul? That is the real me. It too has an eternal existence, but its place of destiny is determined by how I have lived on earth, and which master I have served. If I have repented of my sins, and asked God to forgive me and wash me clean in the Holy Blood of Jesus, my soul has been redeemed from the curse of sin, which is judgment, and the eternal fires of Hell.
If you have served the evil master, his demons will carry you, screaming and pleading, down into the depths of eternal damnation where your soul will suffer forever and ever.
For the righteous, who have loved and served the Lord God, Moses, in his sad requiem, gives us a hopeful promise, by saying that the end of it all, “and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). The Hebrew word for “fly” can mean — to cover with wings, to fly (away), to shine forth.
Next time you sing, “I’ll fly away, oh Glory! I’ll fly away, When I die, Hallelujah! By and by, I’ll fly away,” remember, that whether it be by “crossing the spiritual Jordan,” or by being caught up to meet the Lord in the air, we are going to FLY!
We will fly into the sunrise of a new day, just coming up over the horizon. And we will look back over the “story of our life” and say, “It is like as if someone has read me a beautiful story.” But praise God it doesn’t end there: The Real Life has only just begun!
He Sent Me Back to Tell You by Gwen Shaw
Available from our webstore: