In Psalm 39:4 we read, “Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am.” These words remind us that life on this earth is temporary and uncertain. It has been said that everything in life is uncertain except death. James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us of this when he writes, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Any of us may be called next. The question we must all ask ourselves is, “Am I prepared?” Peter Marshall, a Scottish-American preacher and Chaplain of the US Senate in the first half of the twentieth century, once told the following story:
An old legend tells of a merchant in Baghdad who one day sent his servants to the market. Before very long the servant came back, white and trembling, and in great agitation said to this master: “Down in the market place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd, and when I turned around I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture. Master, please lend me your horse, for I must hasten away to avoid her. I will ride to Samara and there I will hide, and Death will not find me.”
The merchant lent him his horse and the servant galloped away in great haste. Later the merchant went down to the market place and saw Death standing in the crowd. He went over to her and asked, “Why did you frighten my servant this morning? Why did you make a threatening gesture?”
“That was not a threatening gesture,” Death said. “It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samara.”
Each of us has an appointment in Samara. But that is cause for rejoicing—not for fear, provided we have put our trust in Him who alone holds the keys to life and death.
God’s Word assures us of this promise when we look to Jesus Christ by faith: “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:11-13).