I’m reading a book called Reflections On The Psalms by C.S. Lewis. He is a very intellectual writer, but not in a way that is hard to understand. He relates things to real life. The reflections that he write are very enlightening. In the fourth chapter, he talks about “Death in the Psalms.” I learned that the Jews in the Old Testament weren’t concerned very much at all with the afterlife. I had assumed they believed in heaven and hell, simply because of the emphasis on that belief in the New Testament. Even though the neighbouring Egyptians believed in an afterlife, worth much more to them than life on earth, the Jews simply believed in God. It seems like it would take much more effort to believe in a God who doesn’t offer hope for eternity spent with Him, but I suppose that since this was all they knew, it wouldn’t be as big a deal.
C.S. Lewis writes, “Is it possible for men to be too much concerned with their eternal destiny?” He thinks so. He follows this statement by suggesting that “happiness or misery beyond death simply in themselves, are not even religious subjects at all…God is not the centre. He is still important only for the sake of something else.”
When I first read this, it caught me off guard, and slightly baffled me. I’ve read so much this year about “forever,” and focusing on eternity. But I think Lewis is referring to hoping for the feel-good forever, focusing on the idea of no pain, no suffering, etc. I’ve been trying to focus on living my life as a preparation for eternity and basing my life on what will last forever, not just the trivial things of life that are here today and gone tomorrow.
That being said, I wonder how different my life, and the way I live my life would be if I didn’t have the motivation and hope of eternity, if all I had was God. It would take a great deal more love and devotion to follow the ways of One with whom I was separated from through sin. At the time of the ancient Jews, Jesus had not yet died on the cross, restoring our access to God. I want to have the same dedication in my life, now. I want to learn to love God as if I wasn’t spending eternity with Him, as if this life was my only opportunity to experience His love and faithfulness.
The Psalmists had this reverence and devotion for their God, and some of the most beautiful poems and creative expressions came as a result of that.