Death Has Lost Its Sting
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Psalm 121:7-8 KJV
‘Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take’
Did you learn this bedtime prayer as a child? I think I must have. By the time my kids came along I was long gone from church and all its practices and I thought this was the most morbid prayer you could ever teach a child!
Now, I am in a place in life where many of my friends are walking through the valley of the shadow of death with their parents. And death is not necessarily the worst thing out there waiting in the shadows. It is harder to live when legs no longer work. Nor do the ears. Or the eyes. And the brain is off in some sort of limbo no-where land. Those are the days when death seems a little more like a friend that we would like to come visit.
One friend’s mother decided last December that she was tired and done. She refused to eat and curled up in her bed. They respected her wishes, pulled the curtains closed, played her favorite music softly, held her hand and prayed over her each day.
This went on day after day through December, January. Sometime in February she sat up and declared she was hungry and would like some toast. She danced (in her wheelchair) at her grandson’s wedding this summer… and death has still refused to come knock at her door.
Another friend’s daddy recently decided one Monday morning that he wanted his daughter to get on with her life. At 99 he had lived his life to the fullest and was tired. She lay down in his bed with him, held him, and they cried together for a long time. He had a cup of coffee and then decided he was no longer hungry. He curled up and slept and waited. That Friday morning, he took his last breath and was gone
We are so very fearful of this thing called death. If you are a follower of Jesus, you know that he told us not to be. He told us we shouldn’t fear what could kill the body, but not the soul.
If you grew up reading the King James version of the bible you may know this passage:
“The Lord is thy keeper: The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” Psalm 121:5-8
All the modern versions have substituted ‘life’ for ‘soul’ – and maybe they are more accurate translations – but I like this version. Our soul is very different, very distinct from our physical body, our ‘life’.
Our bodies get old and tired and weary. Our soul doesn’t wear out. Our soul is the essence of who we are. Our soul is what we entrust to God to keep. ‘I pray the Lord my soul to keep.’ If our soul has been given to the Lord for safekeeping, we are safe indeed.
I have been reading the story of Jesus this week, through the telling of Luke. Luke interviewed many eye-witnesses to the crucifixion of Jesus. He was told that about the 6thhour, darkness covered the whole land, the curtain in the temple tore from top to bottom, and Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit!” And he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46
Spirit. Soul. If we commit our soul into the hands of God, there is little concern over our physical bodies. Our souls are under the protection of God, and He is the God of life and light. We will walk with Him in another world.
The first time I heard this song, 10,000 Reasons, it was at the funeral of a dear friend’s young son. Sung with no music, only hundreds of voices filling the room, I felt the hope and the joy of knowing that God has defeated death, and our souls continue for eternity. If God holds our soul in His hands – it is safe indeed.
“And on that day
When my strength is failing
The end draws near
And my time has come
Still my soul will
Sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years
And then forevermore”