How do you like to be remembered?
The truth is, when a person dies, people will remember the life, not much of the lessons.
What do we have to do?
1. Face the Journey Squarely.
The person who bravely explores life even if he doesn’t know what lies ahead is worthy to be emulated. For who among us really knows the future, but God?
You are privileged to know the life story of a person of where he came from, how he came to be, and where he has reached so far. Why a privilege? It’s because it takes a time to know the journey of one’s life in order to know the person.
Despite the fact that nobody knows what lies in the future, we are all well aware of our common destination.
“The righteous perish,” the Prophet Isaiah says, “and no one takes it to heart.” Here, the righteous is someone who does what is right and is not necessarily perfect in life and actions. The person evidently shows something good and is morally right.
In the Bible, true righteousness comes from God. A person who trusts God has the power to do what’s right because of God who gives him the ability.
When the person’s righteousness comes from one’s self, that’s what we call self-righteousness. It is a product of pride or false humility. The biggest problem there is when one develops or holds the notion that one’s self-righteousness could earn one’s way to God.
However, the righteous person in the Scripture is someone who believes in God alone and behaves in the way that God desires that person to live.
In the New Testament, the righteousness of God is Christ and only through him people become truly righteous.
If someone looks at your life, what will they see? Your self-created righteousness of Christlikeness?
2. Find Hope.
The truth is, both the righteous and unrighteous will someday face the ultimate reality of death. The only difference there is that when the time us up, one has hope while the other is hopeless.
The Bible says, “the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.”
Filipinos do have some cliches, like “Masamang damo, di madaling mamatay” (Bad grass doesn’t die easy) or “Good boy, ang bait mo naman. Baka kunin ka na ni Lord.” (Good boy, you’re quite good, the Lord might take you home). The underlying messages, however, is startling.
The implicated message is: Bad is the new good. It means being bad is advantageous because it will give you long life. Or that being good is bad for you because it seems to look that God wants to take you home as soon as possible.
In the Bible, however, long life is a blessing of God. Many men and women of God lived a full, long, and rich in years. However, the length of years a person lives is not predetermined by God just because the person is good or bad, religious or not. It’s because life and death are also conditioned by one’s personal decision.
When people abuse their health, they tend to live shorter. Some have just gained the after effect of their previous lifestyles. But there are also people who just suffer even tough they tried to live a healthier life. Sometimes, accidents, diseases, or sickness just took over their lives.
When people are suffering, expenses are surmounting, emotions are depressing. Sometimes death is the only way for a painless deliverance from such condition.
I believe, the ultimate goal of God’s deliverance of a righteous person is not the escape from evil and suffering, but to spend eternity with Hm with the absence of evil. The absence of God, not hell, is the most painful torment of the soul.
To be spared from evil is a goal that heaven calls. It is God’s own prerogative, not ours.
3. Finish the Journey with Dignity.
Have you wondered where we got the phrase “rest in peace”? Read this. “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
To “walk uprightly” means to live a righteous life, moral and straight in all manner.
When you hear the greetings, “Peace!” (“Shalom” in Hebrew or “Salaam” in Arabic) it prays “Peace be upon you.” Among Hebrews, however, the concept of “blessings” are more tangible than just well wishes. The blessing of peace really means that of total well-being and prosperity.
For the Biblical Hebrew, the blessings of shalom are usually about the following:
- Promised land (freedom from slavery, exile, etc.)
- Peace and security (freedom from war, violence, terror, etc.)
- Posterity/family (freedom from barrenness, being alone in old age, etc.)
- Prosperous existence (freedom from unnecessary poverty)
- Prolonged healthy life (freedom from sickness, diseases, suffering, etc.)
- Presence of God (freedom from bad, malevolence, and evil)
In the New Testament, the peace of God is perfect: Jesus Christ. He is the perfect means of reconciliation or peace with God and humanity.
The concept is this: No God, No Purpose. No Christ, No Peace.
As such, peace with the holy God comes first, then the Peace of God who is Christ abides in us as forgiven sinners.
In the final analysis, when the end of life’s chapter has come, the resting place for a man of peace is in our hearts. But the ultimate resting place for everyone who is in Christ is in the heart of God.
So once again, how do you like to be remembered?
Where will your final resting place be?
Glenn Plastina (c) 2017
This article is a summary of the exhortation originally given during A Night of Remembrance, a celebration of life in memory of Mr. Angelo T. Acuna Sr.