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Jim Langley: Living and Dying with Dignity

For most, death will not be swift and as we grow older we will be confronted more frequently with those around us dying. To me, it’s important to live and die with dignity.

As a follower of Christ, I truly want to live a life that pleases my Savior and Lord. And as more aches and pains beset me, I want to continue to handle this life with dignity.

Socrates, along with numerous philosophers of his time, believed in “dying a good death.” I don’t consider taking one’s life as a good death. Life is a wonderful gift that God bestows upon each of us, and I proclaim we need to live it purposefully. Taking one’s life before God’s appointed time is a travesty.

In Psalm 90:10, Moses prays and declares for the sake of the Israelites that “Our days may come to 70 years, or 80, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”

This message was specifically communicated to those remaining in the wilderness. As you may recall, only Joshua and Caleb would enter the Promised Land and all others who were rescued from Egyptian bondage died in the desert.

If we go further back in time to the days of Noah, we read in Genesis 6:3, “Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be 120 years,’” which seems to be the best antidote to the longevity of men and women after the Great Flood.

Most of you will agree that 120 years is an exceptional lifespan. And, I imagine most of us would settle for a bit less — especially if our health and lifestyle drastically diminish. Most of us cannot even imagine living anywhere near that many years.

Since my dad made it to 100 and my grandmother on my mom’s side made it to 104, I’m optimistic about my longevity based upon the genes I’ve obviously inherited. With that prospect in mind, I am seriously considering what God might have planned for me as I near the fourth quarter of my life.

What’s most important is simply this: As Christians, whatever days we have left, we must live them as fully and faithfully as we possibly can.

I’m often encouraged by the words of Joshua before his death at 110 years of age. In Joshua 23:14-15, he proclaims, “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then chose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are now living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

In Joshua 24:31, we are told, “Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.” Yet in due time they fell away and took their eyes off the Lord.

In the Book of Judges, we find that the generation that trailed Joshua’s generation became wicked in the eyes of the Lord. In Judges 2:10-11, we are told, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.”

The entire book deals with disobedience followed by obedience to God once He would again deliver them through one judge after another in His continued effort to teach them to remain strong in their belief in Him. We are no different today. We can easily fall away and lose sight of what God has done for us in the past.

Life is a process and a continual progression that tests us with opportunities to follow the righteousness of our Father in Heaven. It does not get easier as we grow older. In fact, it can get more difficult unless we remain close to God through remaining in His Word and fellowship with other believers who will encourage us as we deal with the challenges we all face in life.

As we age, we must retain that childlike faith that brought us to Jesus years before. In Matthew 18:2-4, Jesus explained to His disciples, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of God.”

So, we must remain humble, accept the afflictions that come our way and continue to trust God with childlike faith. Please join me in the worthy quest to live and die in dignity.

Passages to Ponder

» Deuteronomy 30:19-20

» Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

» Psalm 23

» 1 Corinthians 15:54-58

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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