Last week two special people died and both were ninety-nine years old. One was a dear person to me, my Grandmother’s sister, and the last of her family to be called home. The other was the man I remember from childhood who owned our small town’s grocery store and he had a soft heart for kids like me who might not have enough pennies to buy a piece of candy so he gave us one for free. Both people were committed Christians and both people impacted my life and the lives of many others during their ninety-nine years on earth. I am sure that they are both glad to be on their way to glory and no longer trapped in worn-out bodies here. It makes me think of how they lived through so many changes from their birth to their death. Both were probably born in their grandparent’s home, I know my great-aunt was born on the family homestead. Does the younger generation even understand the word homestead? I doubt it. A homestead was a small amount of free land given to people who promised to work the land into a farm and improve it to the point that it fed a family and provided a good livelihood. Nebraska has many homesteads and a hundred years ago was filled with many homesteaders. These pioneering families worked hard all their life. They would have not had the luxury of such things as indoor plumbing or electricity until many years after they had developed their homesteads. They had the choice of working hard, and planting large gardens filled with foods that could be canned and preserved to use in winter when no crops could grow because of frozen ground and snow, or they could starve. They were the happiest people I ever knew, those homestead pioneering families. Maybe having nothing except their own two hands and a good set of brains to think with was why they were so happy. Maybe we need to get back to our pioneering spirit stripped down to nothing but the basics in life, family and land to work to feed our family. The Bible was often their favored book to read and study, and church was important not only for learning more about God and Jesus but for social activities too. Family meant something to them and was treasured. Ninety-nine years is a long life to live.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:1-8, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
The promise to us all is that if we want to live a long and contented and joyful life with mostly good health then we need to seek the counsel of God and obey it! Solomon gave this advice to his sons many years ago and some of his sons didn’t follow it and didn’t live long lives. Sometimes for reasons we don’t always understand God cuts a life short and calls a Christian home sooner than we might anticipate. But for most of us we can be assured that we will live well into old age if we submit our life to Jesus Christ and obey. I have many in my family that have lived well past eighty years and all were Godly men and women. I am encouraged by the witness of their lives. These two special people lived what they believed and we all should do the same.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:1-6, (NASB).
Do we live our lives as King David who is the author of this psalm? He was certainly not always righteous and he committed some pretty serious sins, but he also repented with remorse and never repeated those sins again. This was the first chapter I ever memorized and had it not been for attending my friend’s Vacation Bible School every summer I might not have gotten the whole thing memorized. They had this verse every year I attended as a goal for us to memorize! I think it has carried me through many times over the years since then. I love this passage because it really does give us a glimpse of what a Christian’s life should be. Sheep don’t worry about anything except wolves, water, and grass. They know that their protector is the sheep herder and all will be well. We also know that our protector is God and all will be well so why worry about everything? I have seen many of my family members die and I have been with many people as they died. The one remarkable thing I notice about death is that the Christian dies with a smile on their face and the one who I know absolutely was not a Christian died with a frightened look on their face. I felt sad for those who were frightened because it was too late to show them how to have peace with God. What promise is given to us and what promise is fulfilled when we die, we go to live in God’s house forever and ever and ever, but only if you follow Jesus Christ and are covered by His blood.
At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30, (NASB).
These two saints came to Jesus and after living on earth for ninety-nine years they now are with God. I don’t think they even knew each other here on earth. They were not perfect people but they were people who knew where to take their burdens and lay them down. I hope that my life is a beacon of truth as theirs was to me. I hope that my life points people to Jesus too. What more can I say!