Given once to die


by Robert Berendt

It seems we live and walk with miracle after miracle without paying much attention. Each day we exist on this most remarkable and carefully designed planet. A planet that has so many qualities that work in precision with one another to give us the climate, seasons, tides and atmosphere. Everything from the size and distance of the sun, our moon, the size and rotation of the earth and the way the land and water interact, all must balance one another and work in perfect harmony. We rarely consider the awesome details of our planet.

That is not even the beginning of wonders – magnificent as it is. On this planet, there are life forms everywhere which are made from the soil of the earth and that are dependent upon one another in a fascinating array of interaction. Soil and water combine to form plants, animals, fish, and birds along with trillions of bacteria and a huge insect world. Amazingly, each of them is unable to exist without the others. Everything about us is a miracle and a wonder that is intertwined with everything else. We live and walk in a world of wonder. But all living things have a determined lifespan. Some have very short lives, some fairly long, but nothing lives forever.

We take life for granted. It seems we do not comprehend what a wonder it is that all living things come from the earth and return to the earth when their life is over (Eccl.3:20). We are confronted with the death of people we love, pets and other creatures as well as flowers, grass, and trees. Everything returns to the earth from which it miraculously came. Paul noted that it was also given that all men die once (Heb.9:27). There is no escaping this event for anything that is alive.

One major wonder is that the earth or dust from which we came ever began to live. First, there had to be some way in which the dust could be formed into different kinds of cells and bodies into which other kinds of cells which are separate, still totally dependent upon one another. That is the mind-boggling miracle of life. How can you take a bucket of dust, add water and have some living thing come forth? The fact that each cell is complicated and everything must be perfect for it to be given life is marvelous enough. To realize that in our body there are billions of cells that differ from one another and yet function. No single cell can live on its own. For example, the cells of our skin depend on the cells of our blood to transport food which the cells of our digestive system have put into the bloodstream after billions of bacteria have worked on the food in our intestines to extract that which is needed. When one lets one’s mind roam around that thought for awhile, it becomes clear we simply cannot be an accident of nature.

Actually, we are more than just dust, there is yet another ingredient that is present in a living person, but not in a pile of dust. For we humans, that is the spirit in man which God gives at birth and which returns to Him at our death (Eccl. 12:7). What an incredible piece of information we have about the spirit in man. That spirit is not of the dust of the earth and even animals have a spirit from God (Eccl.3:21). God created each living thing whether plant or animal completely able to live. He brought about life and sustains it through His work from generation to generation with a marvelous blueprint for every living thing.

In humans, there is the ability to think, feel, perceive, have emotions, plan and impact their surroundings. God said it would take hard work, but humans could improve their lot if they sought the laws and ways of the Creator. It has been a very hard life for thousands of years for many people (Gen.3:18,19). But God gave mankind the potential to subdue and control the earth (Gen.1:26-29). We cannot, however, prolong life.

All the greatest heroes and servants of God came to the end of their lives. People like Noah, Abraham, and Sarah died like the rest of civilization would die. Some due to illness or disease, some through an accident, some through suicide and some were killed by God. Even after they died, God never forgot or forsook them in His plan. The example of Elisha gives us a few things to think about. Elisha was a great prophet of God who followed in the shoes of Elijah. But Elisha became ill with some sort of disease and the Bible simply states that he had an illness that he would die from (2 Kings 13:14). God had performed miracles of healing through Elisha but was not going to intervene and save his life this time. God was not yet finished with Elisha because when a dead soldier was lowered into the tomb where the bones of Elisha lay, the dead man’s body accidentally touched the bones of Elisha and the man was resurrected to life (v.21). So, God clearly had respect even for the bones of Elisha that were left.

Before God revealed the plan He had in mind for all of mankind, people feared death and invented all sorts of beliefs in which they hoped for another life – a life after death (Heb.2:14,15). We all go through this door of death to arrive at the door of life, which is Christ (John 10:9). Through Christ mankind is the only living thing given a hope beyond the one-time death. Jesus Christ the Son of God lived and died as a human to save the world and to show us the goodness of God. He lay in His grave for 3 days and nights and then was resurrected to life. The inconceivable happened. The incomprehensible took place and was witnessed by hundreds of amazed people (I Cor.15:1-8). Nobody expected Christ to rise from death. It was given once to die – but the plan and hope of the Creator was that through His life and death we could attain the gift of eternal life that He offered (Rom.6:23).

In this amazing world, created with all its wonders, nothing comes near to the resurrection of the dead to eternal life in a spiritual body that God offers (I Cor. 15:44). In God’s great wisdom, He designed and planned this earth and the process whereby humans can live and die. All living things are involved in this process, but only humans have been given the hope of life after death. Only humans have the kind of mind that can comprehend and appreciate the events we experience. Our wonderful mind is filled with emotions and knowledge that allows us to think, hope, fear and choose. One miracle is piled upon another and culminates in the incredible. Paul wrote that he pressed on in this life, reaching for that which lay ahead where his physical body will be conformed to Christ’s glorious body (Phil.3:11-21). It is given once to die – but after that God offers eternal life (Rom.6:23).

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About Lorelei Nettles

Lorelei was born in Minnesota. She met and married husband Robert in 1982. They have one son, Roger and now live in Arizona. She has always enjoyed writing and has written for online blogs, as a ghostwriter, and for her church for many years.
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