Sunday, February 13, 2005

The House of Mourning...

This past Friday I had the always sobering experience of attending a funeral viewing, for a friend who passed away prematurely in this instance. His name was David Ratts, and he was my undergraduate academic advisor in the School of Informatics. I don't think I've ever had a more energetic, caring and helpful counselor at school; unfortunately he was several years from reaching his allotted years when he died at 56 last week.

One of the things that struck me was the breadth of his accomplishments in the arts before his work with the school. When I read his obituary it was clear that he had a life full of accomplishment and achievement, yet when his time came, it just came, as with all other men.

On the day I went to his viewing I thought of Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 and what it means:

"A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth; Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth."

These verses are probably more difficult to understand for a younger person, but they certainly mean more to me now than they did five years ago. I'm really thankful that what believe gives us the ability to cast death, even a premature one such as this, in a light of hope and promise rather than in despair and hopelessness. My friends death and the verses in Ecclesiastes make me enjoy and appreciate life that much more, by being reminded that you never really know how long you'll have it.

I found this quote from Mark Twain at a site I stumbled onto and have really enjoyed, it's called Quote Garden: "The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time." I don't think you could say it much better... hopefully that's they way we can all feel when we've "finished our race".

1 comment:

2nd Hand Lions Club said...

An excellent commentary, Dave ...

56, yes, that is too young to die. My father died at the same age. Looking at 56 from a mere 4 shy years, is is FAR TOO young to pass from life's stage.

The quote from Mark Twain is one of favorites of his. It says what far too many people have iether remained in ignorance of or have feared too much to acknowledge.

We ARE in control of the journey and the outcome of that journey. God bestowed us with the Power of Choice. But to claim the that power, we must:

1) Have a Plan
2) Choose
3) Follow the Plan
4) Be ready for Change
5) ALWAYS seek God to be involved in EVERYTHING we do

The Fear of Failure is one of the most paralyzing forces in human existence; eclipsed only the the Fear of Success.

It is a strange iron of age that the wisdom necessary to appreicate the opportunities of life, which seem only to come during the waning 'acts of life'. But, that is why God intended for the young to seek counsel of the 'hoary head'; be if man or woman.

Lev. 19:32, "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I [am] the LORD."

Prov. 16:31, "The hoary head [is] a crown of glory, [if] it be found in the way of righteousness."

The aged members of society, those who have already survived their own series of bad choices and have learned to avoide the 'chug-holes-of-life' and the damage they cause. And most importantly that God IS the only true Guide without error. At this point, they are now able to pass on this wisdom to the younger generation.

Job 12:12, "With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding."

In doing so, the young - man or woman - is infused with the wisdom of the life experiences. This 'infusion of wisdom' is the 'sourdough' that will begin the process of maturation. Like any 'starter of sourdough', the 'starter' can go flat or be bad. So, the better quality of the 'sourdough', the better the life of the young person who receives it.

The passage of wisdom begins at home.

Ex. 20:12, "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."

This teaching extends outward to all the people a person comes into contact through their life.

Beginning with God.

Job 28:28, "And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding."

Prov. 9:10, "The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding."

Right on down through being able to discern good 'company'.

Pro 27:17, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."

To being able to discern Right from Wrong.

Mal 3:18, "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not."

Heb 5:14, "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

The "House of Mourning" is a very sobering place to visit. It's also a place to understand the relevance of what truly is important in life. We are given but a short time to live on earth and quite a lot to do during that time. It's good that we realize early on this important reality about living.

For if we fail to learn the lessons from the "House of Mourning" and the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, then we will likely end up living the reality of Jeremiah 16:5.

"For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, [even] lovingkindness and mercies."

These, I don't believe, are words any of us want to ever hear - directed at us.

The CHOICE, is ours.

Uncle Garth