A wise man once said, “We are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We are in the land of the dying, trying to go to the land of the living.”
As we stand beside the open grave of a loved one, we grieve our loss. It has been that way since the early days of creation. Genesis records GOD saying to man, “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) We all have an appointment with death according to Hebrews 9:27.
Paul Azinger, a professional golfer, was only 33 when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was enjoying a great career on the PGA when the cancer news came. Understandably he was devastated and said that everything he had accomplished in golf became meaningless. News like this has a way of putting things into proper perspective.
Azinger wrote, “A genuine feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. But then another reality hit me even harder: I’m going to die eventually anyway, whether from cancer or something else.” Paul Azinger realized a great truth. Death is not a question of if, it is a question of when.
However, as a Christian we must understand that death is not the end of our existence. Job asked the question, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14) The answer to that is yes. There is life after death. We will exist somewhere after death.
So to return to our original statement, our view should not be that we are in the land of the living and headed to the land of the dying. Rather, we are in the land of the dying. From the day we are born we are headed to an appointment with death. But, we can be headed to the land of the living in which there will be no death. (Revelation 21:4)
This reminds me of another truth. We are not a body with a soul. We are a soul with a body. Someone once said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
This body is a temporary habitat for my eternal soul. I like the way Paul expressed it in Philippians 1:23. Earlier he had expressed that for him to live was Christ and to die would be gain. In other words, it was a win-win for him. He then said, “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better.” The term he used for “to depart” literally means to fold a tent or break camp. This is how the child of GOD should view his earthly existence. We are here a short time. We then fold our tent and head to our permanent dwelling.
If you are a Christian, you have hope of eternity in heaven. This eternal destination is not because you earned it. It is because GOD’S grace made it available to you. Yes, there are conditions. There are things you must do to accept that grace. And the Bible clearly says the majority of people will not accept it. (Matthew 7:13)
If you accept His grace, then when your loved ones stand beside your open grave, they can take comfort in this fact. We are not in the land of the living headed to the land of the dying. No, we are in the land of the dying but we are headed for the land of the living.
One of my favorite Scriptures is found in John 14. Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am there you may be also.”
That is the place of the living. That is where I want to go. That is my eternal home. I love my life here on earth. I want to see my grandkids grow up and faithfully serve the LORD. But I know I am in the land of the dying. And I want to go to the land of the living. Don’t you?