Thursday, January 9, 2014

Death Watch

"In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die” (Isaiah 38:1).

I read this morning about a new gadget, the Tikker Death Watch, a wristwatch that ticks off the seconds until you die. The watch-wearer fills out a questionnaire, inputs age and the countdown begins. (The watch employs a logarithm used by the federal government to estimate life expectancy.)

Swiss inventor, Fredrick Colting, a former grave digger it should be noted, got the idea for the watch when his grandfather died: “It made me think about death and the transience of life, and I realized that nothing matters when you are dead. Instead, what matters is what we do when we are alive.” (One potential customer quipped that he would "Blast some Ethel Merman one last time while sipping latte.")   

King Hezekiah of Judah had a "Death Watch" of sorts: He was gravely ill and the prophet Isaiah said the countdown had begun. The king, who was the only 38 years old at the time, begged for additional days. God in his mercy gave him fifteen years. Sad to say, Hezekiah squandered those years, exposing Judah's treasure to the Babylonians, a self-serving decision that led to the Babylonian Captivity some years later. He also fathered Manasseh, an awful man that led the nation of Judah into moral ruin.

St. Peter had a “Death Watch” as well: "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self- controlled and sober- minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace..." (1 Peter 4:7-10).

What can we do with the moments that remain? Fret about them or fritter them away?  Here’s Peter’s guidance: Pray, love those inside and outside of God’s family and use your spiritual gifts to serve others. Put another way, do the things that have eternal significance.

In the words of a plaque that hung on the wall of my boyhood home:

Only one life will soon be past;

only what's done for Christ will last.

And when I am dying how glad I will be,

that the lamp of my life has blazed out for Thee.

David Roper


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