Friday Morning Manna
January 31, 2020
Kobe Bryant’s Sudden Death Reminds All: Today May Be Our Last. How Well Did We Live It?
It is fallen human propensity. We mortals forget what we should remember, and sadly, more often than not, in that general forgetfulness, miss and even lose what matters most. For this reason, reminders are indispensable and may prove to be a life saver. We need to be reminded of what we should never miss, even if we forget the rest.
So, while it is still fresh in the consciousness of countless grieving fans and admirers nationally and even globally, holding its own amidst the crush of cascading events, prominent of which are the U.S. history-making current impeachment trial of president Donald Trump, dovetailing into the approaching 2020 presidential election, the steadily mounting unrests, conflicts and wars in an increasingly angry, edgy, and violent world, and one quickly following the other without hardly a break—the devastations of record-breaking wildfires, uptick of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding, outbreaks of new, deadly diseases attributed to what they call “global warming,” etc.,– let’s do something together with our hearts and minds. Consider the following:
“Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” In the midst of all these, I see in the sudden passing away of NBA legend Kobe Bryant with his 13-year old daughter and seven other passengers when his private helicopter crashed into the Calabasas hills on the foggy morning of January 26, a sad but precious opportunity to remind ourselves of the following, lest we miss it: Tomorrow is a promise and even a dream; but today is the opportunity, the reality.The apostle says:
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make profit, whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears a little time then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. But now you boast in your ignorance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4: 13-17, NKJV.
Here James reminds all: (1) lest those who already know, forget, or temporarily let it slip from their consciousness (2) those who don’t yet comprehend what temporal life is for under the plan of the gospel and thus live and plan for tomorrow under this fog of ignorance (3) the Epicurean who, in careless disregard what they know is intemperance, wantonly indulges saying, “let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” (4) those who, like the five foolish virgins of the parable, in their impatience become weary waiting for the bridegroom to come, are dozing off without adequate oil in their lamps at the midnight of earth’s history (5) for Procrastinators. Edward Young famously said, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” Aaron Burr, in a Letter wrote, “By the street of By-and By one comes to the house of Never.” William Congrever, in Letter to Cobham, penned: “Defer not tomorrow to be wise; tomorrow’s sun to thee may never rise.” (6) for Pessimists. Someone defined a pessimist as “one who complains of noise when opportunity is knocking on the door.” None of the above, even if they believed so, can boast of tomorrow for it may never come. Today may be our last. The unvarnished truth, not virtual reality, is that mortal life is just like a vapor that appears briefly then disappears. Then life as we know it, is too short to be trifled away. In fact is it just literal breathe away, when at that point all you could say in choice-less resignation, “he breathed his last and was gone.”
Death, the great equalizer
“Death joins us to the great majority.” Edward Young, The Revenge. James Shirley wrote: “Death lays his icy hand on kings; scepter and crown must tumble down, and in the dust be equal made with the poor, crooked scythe and spade.”- James Shirley, Contention of Ajax and Ulysses.
Death is what equalizes an emperor with his subjects; a president like “honest Abe” with those who voted him into office; an icon, whether of sports, film, stage, fashion, literature, music and culture, corporate, science and technology with his fans, “groupies,” “homies,” or adulating followers; a five star general with his soldiers in the ranks; a chairman of the board with his rank-and-file employees; a venerated religious figure with his votaries; a hooded executioner of the Inquisition ilk with his wretched victims, whom God calls His saints. Maggots are not prejudiced; they’re not picky between a sinner or saint, a constitutional expert or an illiterate on the streets, black, white, brown or yellow-skinned. We all end up the same—not as “food for the gods” but as food for the worms. Extremely painful to say and hear yet true, through and through.
In Hamlet it says:“The king and beggar, while distinctly different in life, are but simply food for worms in death. No matter wealth, looks, power, in the end everyone must succumb to death. It is the one thing in which no one can overcome.” Here’s where I beg to differ. There is One who overcame the world, the flesh and the devil, and then overcame death and grave. At His glorious resurrection from the rent grave, He victoriously proclaimed to all “who are in bondage all their lives over the fear of death” (Heb. 2:15), “I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11: 25. To all “who overcome even as He overcame,” He promises, “I will grant to sit with Me in My throne.” Rev. 3: 31.
Here’s the finality of the shared equality but with two opposite “binary” final conclusions and corresponding rewards or recompenses, regardless of status in life. Note the words, “all,” “whole,” “every,” “according”:
“For all must stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Rom. 14: 10.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, every secret thing, whether they be good or evil.” Eccl. 12: 13, 14.
Only God omniscient and omnipotent knows the end from the beginning of everything and everyone. Although He does not reveal all the details of one’s future– because He created man a free moral agent, endowing him with the governing power of the will, and thus all make individual choices and decisions, either for or against God’s revealed divine purpose and will—He has revealed mortal man’s finite limitations in contrast to His immortal unlimited infinity with all its divine powers. Through the wiseman Solomon God declares:
“That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done. And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after.” Eccl. 1: 9-11.
The Bible declares and defines eternal truths to which there are no “alternative facts,” no matter how hard the master deceiver and his deceived victims-turned-agents have been vainly trying “to add or take away from.” Some of these are:
Immediately after their transgression, the first Adam and his first and last wife, Eve, heard this awesomely solemn sentence from the lips of their Creator who, four thousand years later, would incarnate to become the “second Adam.” He said:
“From dust thou art, to dust shalt thou return.” Gen. 2: 7; 3: 19; Ps. 103: 14; Eccl. 3: 20; 12: 7, 6. Man was neither made from spirit nor from ashes but from the dust of the ground. “Ashes to ashes” is man’s foolish addition to the Creator’s sentence, “from dust back to dust.”
Most certainly man did not evolve from apes and all that nonsense. The family of mankind emerged from the “seed” of the first Adam and his first and last wife, Eve, the mother of mankind. All thus suffer the same “equalizing” fate of mortality. Notice:
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world. and death through sin, and thus death spread (passed) to all men, because all sinned.” Rom. 5: 12.
The first Adam did not experience any birth. He was not born; he was made. He had no human father or mother. The Creator formed and made him a physically full-grown man “after His own image and likeness.” The “Word,” the Creator, God eternal, who is “the same with God” (John 1: 1-14), in whom is “life original, unborrowed and underived,” had no beginning, thus, no end. He had no father or mother (as typified by Melchizedek the priest-king to whom Abraham returned tithes to) till He was born on this earth in His incarnation. Because of his sin, the first Adam died at the ripe old age of 930 years. Nothing’s changed: “The wages of sin, is, still, and always will be “death.”
All will return to the dust of the ground, not to “spirit,” for man was “made from the dust of the ground,” not from “spirit.” All “born of women,” except that “One Seed of the woman” who was “born of a woman in the fullness of time” (Gen. 3: 15; Gal. 4: 4, 5) will, without fail and exception, return to the dust. The great enigma of mortality is that the moment a person is born, he begins to die, not starts to live eternally. Paul clarifies that “God alone has immortality.” 2 Tim. 6: 16.
And so “the Lord of both the living and the dead” (Rom. 14: 9), that is, the righteous living (living saints) and the righteous dead (the dead in Christ), says:
“The living know that they will die but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also, their love, their hatred, and envy have now perished. Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.” Eccl. 9: 5, 6. And so His admonition is: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Verse 10.
We can only do what we must, while still alive and possessing a rational mind. Even those considered medically and legally alive but are “brain dead” in a persistent vegetative state, kept alive only by man-made “life support,” barring a miracle, are likely beyond “doing whatever your hand finds to do with your might” that will be reckoned in his judgment. That was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.
Why is it almost always with the swoon, “too soon”? Largely because of failure to “make hay while the sun shines,” to “strike while the iron is hot,” to “stitch in time in order to save nine.” Neglect to accomplish what should’ve and could’ve been done when there was life, time, opportunity, resources and occasion to do so. Repentance may come a bit too late and only bitter regrets to grapple with. And yet, as with the penitent thief on the cross, the last-minutes remaining to make the best of whatever fraction of time remains, is the only Biblical way “to redeem lost time.” But never, ever procrastinate!
“Our time here is short. We can pass this world but once; as we pass along, let us make the most of life. The work to which we are called does not require wealth or social position or great ability. It requires a kindly, self-sacrificing spirit and steadfast purpose. A lamp, however small, if kept steadily burning, may be the means of lighting many other lamps. Our sphere of influence may seem narrow, our ability small, our opportunities few, our acquirements limited, yet wonderful possibilities are ours through a faithful use of the opportunities of our own homes. . . . . Every act is judged by the motives that prompt it. Only that which is in accord with the principles of God’s law will stand in the Judgment.”- E. G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 315, 316.
The prophet declared: “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.” Amos 4: 12. This preparation is to be made daily, as long as we live, which may be long or short, before our prime, at our prime or after it. It is not the length that finally matters; it is what was accomplished during that lifetime. Jesus accomplished all His work on earth in just three-and-a-half years as the Messiah and the promised Lamb of God. After His death and resurrection, He ascended to finish up His closing work in heaven as our merciful High Priest–Advocate, Mediator, Intercessor– and the righteous and just Judge of all the earth. Then He returns as King of kings and Lord of Lords with His rewards.
I suggest adding this to your daily prayer: “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Ps. 90: 12. “Only one life ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” If you received a “spark” from this message, don’t let it die. Pass it on to someone who may read it for the first and last time. It may be you or me. This is what the sudden death of Kobe should mean to you and me!
(To be continued next week)