Years ago, when I read the life story of Thomas Merton, a famous American Trappist monk, I was intrigued by the way he was gradually drawn out of the world which had previously consumed his life and into the monastery of Gethsemane in Kentucky. When he entered the monastery portico he looked up and engraved in stone were the words, “God alone”. To enter this doorway meant your life now is for God without compromise. It already was an invitation to heaven. When I visited Gethsemane monastery many years later, I took delight in finding those iconic words still engraved in stone. I spent a month in the monastery pondering these two words. They sum up everything that it is important for human beings to know.
When we enter through the doorway of death, and no one can avoid this, we will find ourselves with God alone. We will not be able to lean on our bank account, or our academic degree, or our successful business, or our multiple achievements in art, science, sport, or even ecclesiastical status. We will be with God alone. He is meant to be our last end; caught up in the wonder and beauty of his glory forever. We are created to finish our short life here by entering into the immensity of the ocean of God’s love, caught up in the awesome light and splendour of God forever.
The world offers us possessions, titles, positions, status, power and prestige. But all of this will fade in time. The psalmist prays to the Lord, “Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart” (Ps 90:12). It is over in a flash, “man who is merely a breath, whose life fades like a passing shadow” (Ps144:4). We have no abiding city. As another psalm says, “O Lord, you have shown me my end, how short is the length of my days. Now I know how fleeting is my life” (Ps 39:5). We are made for God and our whole existence will come to fruition when our present experience of God comes to full flowering through death; when we encounter the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in eternity.