AUTHOR of The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471) was a contemplative and mystic who gave us unique glimpses into the human soul that contemplatives and mystics tend to do. This particular reflection of mine is one that is based on a reminder of the inevitable coming — not simply Christ — but of death; a death we all die once. How inevitably awkward that we might avail ourselves to the opportunity to plan forward for that event in time!
The contemplative and mystic states:
“It is better to avoid sin than fear death. If you are not prepared today, you will not be prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how do you know you will have a tomorrow?”
Truth is, we don’t know. We don’t know. Read it again; we don’t know. What’s impactful in that is what results from such a thought — we think life will run on and on… or we get fearful that life really will be over too soon. Instead of these two states of mind, ought we not to rather impel ourselves forward to that date and time? It comes!
Let death come with a vengeance, knowing we’ve done all we can personally. And let it come knowing we’ve made adequate preparations for those we care about when we’re long gone.
Making Life Count Now: Learning To Look Back From the End
Life seems so permanent, but one day, in a flash, our life will be a vapour. Looking back from there is purpose for life.
À Kempis states also that a longer life is not necessarily a good thing, given the longer we live, the more opportunity for guilt. Precisely the point; getting our affairs in order, is driven by the appropriate fear of the Lord — eternity in heaven, whilst it will be unimaginatively beautiful and awesome, is totally unknowable. When we arrive — to spend all eternity there — we will not be able to wind back the clock. The time for clocks will be at an end!
Looking backwards from the ends of our lives gives us great perspective for the impetus of now.
Looking backwards from anywhere is the enrolling of hindsight; an inevitable wisdom.
Death always defies expectation. The Lord will come just as death does — i.e. with no warning at all. Inconceivably we will all, each one, in our own way, be irrevocably changed — and our views of this life will change and conform to Truth in a flash.
Those of us who thought wrongly of God or of any part of life will come immediately to face the Truth.
“How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what he wants to be found in death. Perfect contempt of the world, a lively desire to advance in virtue, a love for discipline, the works of penance, readiness to obey, self-denial, and the endurance of every hardship for the love of Christ, these will give a man great expectations of a happy death.”
The privilege of life is each life owes God a death — to die and ‘to pass’ into the arms of eternity. No one can interrupt this. No one can stop this. No one can change this.
This life is a constant series of temptations. Eternity is an evaluation of our responses.
“The present is very precious; these are the days of salvation; now is the acceptable time. How sad that you do not spend the time in which you might purchase everlasting life in a better way. The time will come when you will want just one day [more], just one hour [more] in which to make amends, and do you know whether you will obtain it?” (Underlining added as emphasis)
Regret is coming, but it won’t be a regret that we can do anything about. This is sad, but it’s better to know about it now — that The Truth is coming — and use it as a purpose that impels us forward, before The Day.
The purpose of life is to know purpose is defined by life’s end, and to be driven by that purpose and that purpose alone.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.