The Message (MSG)
20-26 “In famine, he’ll keep you from starving,
in war, from being gutted by the sword.
You’ll be protected from vicious gossip
and live fearless through any catastrophe.
You’ll shrug off disaster and famine,
and stroll fearlessly among wild animals.
You’ll be on good terms with rocks and mountains;
wild animals will become your good friends.
You’ll know that your place on earth is safe,
you’ll look over your goods and find nothing amiss.
You’ll see your children grow up,
your family lovely and lissome as orchard grass.
You’ll arrive at your grave ripe with many good years,
like sheaves of golden grain at harvest.
A man who once wrote about the salvaging of old ships stated that it was not the age of the wood from the vessel alone that improved its quality. The straining and the twisting of the ship by sea, the chemical reaction produced by the bilge-water, and the differing cargoes also had an effect.
Several years ago some boards and veneers cut from an oak beam from an eighty-year-old ship were exhibited at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway in New York City. They attracted attention, because of their elegant coloring and beautiful grain. Equally striking were some mahogany beams taken from a ship that sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years of travel had constricted the pores of the wood and deepened its colors, so that they were as magnificent and bright as those of an antique Chinese vase. The wood has since been used to make a cabinet that sits in a place of honor in living room of a wealthy New York family.
There is also a great difference between the quality of elderly people who have lived listless, self-indulgent, and useless lives and the quality of those who have sailed through rough seas, carrying cargo and burdens as servants of God, and as helpers of others. In the latter group, not only has the stress and strain of life seeped into their lives but the aroma of the sweetness of their cargo has also been absorbed into the very pores of each fiber of their character.
When the sun finally drops below the horizon in the early evening, evidence of its work remains for some time. The skies continue to glow for a full hour after its departure. In the same way, when a good or great person’s life comes to its final sunset, the skies of this world are illuminated until long after he is out of view. Such a person does not die from this world, for when he departs he leaves much of himself behind-and being dead, he still speaks.
When Victor Hugo was more than eighty years old, he expressed his faith in this beautiful way: “Within my soul I feel the evidence of my future life. I am like a forest that has been cut down more than once, yet the new growth has more life than ever. I am always rising towards the sky, with the sun shining down on my head. The earth provides abundant sap for me, but heaven lights my way to worlds unknown.
“People say the soul is nothing but the effect of our bodily powers at work. If that were true, then why is my soul becoming brighter as my body begins to fail? Winter may be filling my head, but an eternal spring rises from my heart. At this later hour of my life, I smell the fragrance of lilacs, violets, and roses, just as I did when I was twenty. And the closer I come to the end of my journey, the more clearly I hear the immortal symphonies of eternal worlds inviting me to come. It is awe-inspiring yet profoundly simple.”