Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 5, 1968
NUMBER 31, PAGE 4,6a

"All Flesh Is As Grass"


As the swift passing years roll by, and the brevity and uncertainty of life are constantly in view, this writer is aware of an ever-growing link with these myriads who have gone before him and perhaps an equal number who shall follow him. When we are young and filled with the newness and wonder of life we tend to be selfish, to think in terms of our own lives. But when the years accumulate we begin to understand that one's own individual life is directly linked to a great host of others, both living and dead and that no man is really "free to live his own life."

All this came home with new force the other day when we happened to be looking into some back issues of the Gospel Guardian, and ran across an exchange between G.H.P. Showalter and Cled E. Wallace. Brother Showalter had said something about "young editor Yater" coming along to straighten out the brotherhood, and Cled reminded him that the "young editor" was forty-two years old, and getting gray and bald. Well, both Showalter and Cled have long since entered into their rest, and the "young editor" is now grayer and balder, and very proud and happy grandfather. And as to "straightening out the brotherhood", he never had any ambitions in that direction, and still has none. All he hopes to do is to round out a rather uneventful career in about thirty or forty more years, "shuffle off this mortal coil" (and whether it is "a peaceful hour in which to die" or in the flaming inferno of a hydrogen bomb really won't make too much difference) and stand in the presence of his Creator with the same kind of assurance the aged Paul had in the long ago.

One factor that has always been in the mind of this editor during these sorrowful years of division and strife has been his link to the past. When facing crucial decisions we have sought. first of all, to determine as precisely and accurately as we could what the teaching of the Lord might be — and then, as a further check, to try to project in our thinking how faithful men of the past (men who loved the Lord and whose understanding of his will might be clearer than ours) would react to the particular problem under study. Faced with this situation, what would David Lipscomb have done? or J. D. Tant? or H. Leo Boles? How would Benjamin Franklin have handled this issue? What would J. W. McGarvey have done, or M. C. Kurfees? or T. B. Larimore? And how about those who are to follow? How will this decision affect their lives? What about my son and his work, my grandchildren, the children and grand-children of my friends?

(Three months later.) After three of the busiest months we have ever known, in looking through some 'unfinished manuscripts' -- of which we have several — we ran across the above paragraphs. Now we will complete the article. This is written from a motel room in Las Cruces, New Mexico, during an over-night stop enroute to California. What appears to be the approaching death of the editor's oldest brother, J. D. Tant, Jr., adds a somber note of poignancy and heart-break to this unfinished editorial. In fact, it is his terminal illness which prompts the use of the editorial now. "No man is an island", and no man can watch a brother in the flesh growing daily closer to death without feeling a touch of death in his own heart. What can be done? How can one prepare a loved one for that final moment when the spirit must take its flight? True it is that "all flesh is as grass," and every one of us understands, or should understand, that death is inevitable. But the hour of parting is never easy. And when one knows that his own death draws closer by the hour, even the strongest and most devout must have moments that are dark.

Of course, the unutterable consolation of the Christian's hope is the only thing that can ever sustain in such an hour. That man who has no hope, who is an unbeliever, goes down into the narrow confines of me grave in total despair. Perhaps he faces it with stoic resignation: perhaps with a shrieking cry of terror and dread. But, whatever his attitude, death can never be for him the welcome and joyous hour that it can be (and should be) for a faithful Christian. He can look forward to no welcome reunion with loved ones "over there:" he can have no eager anticipation for the final moment of release; he can not grow tense and ardent with expectation, awaiting that moment when first he realizes he is in the actual presence, face to face, with Christ his Savior!

"It is appointed unto men once to die," wrote the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. (Heb. 9:27.) We are creatures of death: there is no escape. We cannot avoid it: cannot evade it: cannot buy off from it; and all the skill of all the physicians of earth cannot long delay it. We all shall die. It behooves us, then, to make certain that we "die in the Lord," sustained and strengthened by his promises, made joyful in the hour of death by the certainty of a life beyond in which "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall he no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying." (Rev. 21:4)

Our fathers have died before us; our children shall die after us. That, really, is not too important. One thing, and one thing only should be considered — how we have lived, not how we die.

F. Y. T.