A few years ago, I sat in a dingy office talking to a friend who'd given himself to causes that, while gaining him notoriety and more friends than he could count, had not gained him much financially. He was now in his late fifties, and although he appeared warm on the surface, not far below lie a very real anger and fear of what his latter days would look like. He was far from God and far from contentment.
In discussing his failing health, tears welled up in his eyes for a moment as he admitted his deepest fear through clenched teeth: "I don't want to die penniless in the gutter."
Social convention prohibited me from saying the first thing that came to mind, although in retrospect, perhaps I should have ignored the rules and blurted it out. The thought I had was "What's the difference?"
Reading in Psalm 49 yesterday brought that whole encounter to mind. I'm not sure what we're looking for in death, but it seems money has little to do with the experience. Those that have it, while perhaps a bit more comfortable in their final moments, don't really fare any better than those that don't. Dead is quite dead, and one cannot file an extension. Even the IRS is more understanding than the grave.
Psalm 49 ends with this - People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals. (New Living Translation).
The beauty of this is that you don't have to die like the animals, and it hinges not on your pocketbook but your heart's understanding of what is real, Who is True, and how you were carrying your heart when it came time to meet the True One.
I'm not afraid of dying penniless in the gutter - nor am I fixated on dying in a hospice bed surrounded by my friends and flowers. I'm determined that when my time comes, I'll have understanding and will be living in alignment with it.