"And then he died."

*The following blog post was originally started on Dec. 30, 2009.

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I’ve never been a huge fan of reading through the Bible in a year. It seems like a silly goal. Its like saying, “I’m going to the gym and I’m gonna work out like crazy and I’m gonna get huge.” Okay. Great. But what’s the point? I guess I’d always thought that I’d rather read a page and understand it then read a thousand and not remember any of it. But that’s just me. That is, until recently.

Don’t laugh at me, but I’m in day TWO (yes, I know) of a through-the-Bible reading plan. And I’m already struck today by four words repeated in Genesis chapter 5: “And then he died.” The majority of the chapter tells the story of the number of years lived by Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methusaleh, Lamech, and Noah.

After telling how many years each one of these men lived (and little else about their lives), each paragraph ends with “and then he died.” I can’t think of any better engraving to have on my tombstone. Jerry Varner: 1973-_____. “And then he died.”

It was a reminder to me that death is so not what we view it as. Death is such an uncomfortable topic to us humans. For me, its because it represents the ticking timer each one of us have that is directly connected to our to-do list; both have-to-do’s and want-to-do’s. And when that timer is up, there are no more to-do’s, but just one last ta-da!

“And then he died” is a great statement to keep in the forefront of life. Not as a morbid reminder of the temporalness of this life, but as a reminder of the imminent commencement of the next. “And then he died” is penned much like “And then he got up from that chair and moved to another room.” So matter-of-fact.

And I don’t care who you are, what you believe, where you live, or what you do. I defy anyone to come up with an issue that weighs more than the issue of eternity. And not to be dismissive, but I won’t even engage the thought that eternity doesn’t exist. That, to me is a non-sensical argument. No matter what your convictions (or apathy) toward the existence of God, the idea of death, the questions surrounding the afterlife; one thing cannot be ignored, and that is the fact that you and I will die and at the moment of our death, we will move from this life to __________. To fill the blank with the word “nothing” is to live in the deepest, most dangerous kind of denial. And its far better to face the blank now than later.

So since there is an eternity, what will it be for you? Ask most anyone in America what they think will happen when they die and you’re more than likely to get some variation of this response: “Well, I think that I’ll go to heaven.” And when you ask them “Why do you think that you’ll go to heaven?” you’ll hear something like, “Because I’ve been a pretty good person. I haven’t done too many things wrong. I haven’t like, killed anybody or anything. So, yeah. I think God will let me in.”

That, my friends, is a crap shoot at best.

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