Let the reality of this next statement settle on you for a moment: you are going to die. It could be today or tomorrow, or maybe 50 or 60 years from now. For most of us, it will be sometime between now and 50 or 60 years. The fact remains, however, if the Lord doesn’t return in the next half-century or so, we are going to die. You are going to die.
In modern times, we work hard at not thinking of death. We’d rather focus on what’s before us and get on with the issues of life. The truth is, however, when we refuse to live with the reality of death before our eyes, we’re destined to live deluded and deceived existences. When we stave off thoughts of our own mortality, we’re doomed to spend our lives on the trivial rather than the eternal. We never gain the heart of wisdom, because we never learned to number our days (Psalm 90:12).
The season of Lent is designed draw you into the wisdom of remembering death. The first day of the Lenten season, Ash Wednesday (March 6), is a reminder that “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Each and every one of us is dirt, and the dirt that we are has an expiration date.
Lest you misunderstand, to remember your death is not intended to be a morbid reflection on the end of life. Instead, it is a bright truth to guide you into real living. For when we remember our death, life is clarified and ordered. The things that seemed so important disappear from view as we’re reminded of the eternal: the things that really matter.
More than this, remembering death leads us not just to renewed minds and reordered priorities about what’s important; it leads us ultimately to Jesus Christ. Remembering our death is humbling. We come to terms with our weakness, our neediness. It brings us to our knees to recognize our need for a Savior, which leads us to hope. Theresa Aletheia Noble writes, “When we remember death, we meditate on the central mystery of our faith: that death has been transformed by Jesus Christ. Not just a vague and general death but our own personal death. Jesus’ death and resurrection can have a direct impact on every person’s life and death if we accept his saving grace.”
As we remember death this Lent, we do so recognizing that right at the center of all we believe is a cross and a resurrection—a death that put to death, death. Which is to say, that when a Christian remembers death, he remembers Christ, and to remember Christ is to remember life. So, take heart, brothers and sisters. You are dust and to dust you shall return. But dust you will not remain. Remember Christ this Lent—and live!