Fear God and Keep His Commandments (4 May 2014)

As part of a grief and bereavement training, a social worker friend of mine recently played a “corpse”. Her task was to be a dead body in a simulated funeral. As she laid motionless, she said that she had a closer experience of death than she expected.

I quote from her sharing of the experience, “On my mock deathbed, I started to reflect on my own life’s achievements and regrets. In the stillness of the moment, I wondered if I have served my purpose and made a difference to the lives of others as I had set my heart out to do. I imagined how my loved ones may respond to my dying and how I would want to say goodbye. I lamented at how I never quite found the romantic love I was looking for, and grieved over lost friendships and unfulfilled dreams. After a long silence, someone finally unclothed me and the facilitator declared me alive again…. I spent the rest of the afternoon in a contemplative mood, unable to reconcile the apparent emptiness that lingered on.”

Often times in the hustle and bustle of busy Singapore life, we do not have time to stop and reflect about how we are living life. If given an opportunity to lie on our deathbeds, would we only then begin to think about whether we have been living empty lives, and whether we are placing our time on things that truly matter?

King Solomon in all his splendor, riches and achievements lamented in Ecclesiastes 1:2,

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”   

He writes that wisdom, pleasure, folly, toil, advancement, riches – all these are meaningless. Afterall,

All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad,the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

As it is with the good,
    so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths,
    so with those who are afraid to take them.” (Ecc 9:2)

Yet the wise King Solomon, having made all these observations through his rich life experience, concluded the matter,

“Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.” (Ecc 12:13-14)

Life does not end when we enter the grave, no, death for believers is just but a transition. We die to continue living with our wonderful Lord in a different realm. Are we therefore living our lives with a view of eternity in mind? At the end of the day, King Solomon acknowledged that God is supreme, and He Himself will review our lives, all secret and hidden things. Do we know His Word and obey Him? Have we lived our life on earth preparing for Christ to come again?

As for my friend, God did not leave her to struggle alone in her emptiness. She was reminded that her pseudo-death experience wasn’t real, even if it had left her with a sense of fruitlessness and incompletion. She still has days ahead, and now with some insights, she could work on what she thought she has not yet accomplished. In addition, a senior of hers had written a note for her after the “funeral” – it said, “in Him, with Him, for Him”. She concluded that “perhaps at the end of the day, He is really all that matters, all that everything is meant to point to.”


Sister Cherlyn Oh