“Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure." Ecclesiastes 7:3-4
Somewhere I read that angels fly because they take themselves lightly and God seriously. This makes perfect sense to me. I can’t fly—never have and never will—because like most people I take myself too seriously and God too lightly. In some ways I believe the greater challenge is not to take yourself too seriously. Many years ago I heard Vernon Grounds say that when approaching any important decision you should ask, “What difference will this make in 10,000 years?” What a liberating way to look at life. Ninety-nine percent of what you worried about this week won’t matter three weeks from now much less ten thousand years from now. In the year 3234 it won’t matter where you went to college or what kind of car you drove. But what will matter is that you have decided to take God seriously in every area of your life. All these trivial, piddly details that just soak up so much energy will in that day be seen for what they really are—trivial, piddly details.
That’s why the wise spend time in the house of mourning. When you view the body of a friend or loved one, it’s amazing how so many of the lesser issues of life suddenly melt away. Moses declared of God, “You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning—though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered” (Psalm 90:5). Recently when the death of a local pastor was announced on the radio, one of my friends heard only part of the report. He thought they were talking about me. It could have been me, it might be me next time, and certainly one day it will be me. Thinking along those lines certainly causes you to ponder your own mortality. Visiting the house of mourning reminds of us that life is short and we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. Enjoy each day as a gift from God and don’t forget that you won’t be here forever.
Lord, deliver me from the pomposity of taking myself too seriously and from the folly of taking You too lightly. Amen.
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