Death never comes at a convenient time, yet it is one of the certainties of life – 100 out of 100 die! The passing of Nelson Mandela should remind us not just of own mortality, but also challenges us to consider what we might be able to achieve in our own lives. Some might say that he wasted the best years of his life languishing in prison (being incarcerated from 1964 to 1990), yet when most people are resting in retirement he was a powerful force in bringing freedom to his people! In 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (which he shared with FW De Klerk) and then in 1994, with the first real elections in South Africa he was elected President. He was President till stepping down from that role in 1999 at the age of 81!
There is much that could be said of his life and the legacy he left, but I would like to share with you one short quote from the man himself, as part of his defence in the trial in 1964. He said:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people.
I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.
I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together
in harmony and with equal opportunities.
It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.
But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
(Taken from Speeches that Changed the World, p133)
As you look back over this last year, and ponder your lifetime goals for the future, what are you hoping for, and more particularly what are you prepared to die for? None of us know how much longer we will have, some of us will make it to 94, but I suspect the majority will not, so it is important we seek to make a difference, aim high and somewhere in all that get serious enough to know what we are prepared to die for. Nelson Mandela is also quoted as saying:
“We must use time wisely and forever realise
that the time is always ripe to do right”.
Maybe somewhere in all that, God will speak to you and give you a new vision of what you have to live for.
Chaplain Ian S Whitley