Live Like You Were Dying

Here’s something you probably don’t think about most days: death.

Society would pin you as “sick” if you did, after all. In fact, the word itself probably holds a pretty dark connotation in your mind. It certainly does in mine.

I was, as a child, (and still probably am) vividly disturbed and frightened by programs on TV that deals with death in any sense. The potential of it. The occurrence of it. The result of it.

But the Bible, yes, the Bible indeed condones us thinking about death.

While reading Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love, I was presented with the idea of thinking about the afterlife– about heaven and the truth of everyone dying at some point– maybe for the first time in my life. No one had ever laid it out to me that plainly and encouraged me to consider death.

There’s the Tim McGraw song Live Like You Were Dying and that common phrase, “Live life to the fullest,” and pastors always brush over “judgement day” in that vague, nonchalant kind of way. Death never seemed like more than a misfortune or fear to me. And heaven/hell never really was more than imagery of Dante’s Inferno.

So, I tried to accept Francis’s ideology and stop viewing death as a threat. Rather, I started to accept death as a simple and unavoidable truth that I shouldn’t be pushing from my head. It hit me that maybe’s society’s view and portrayal of death (dark and frightening) is only dark and frightening because they deep down know they are headed for hell. And I have Jesus, so why would I fear being face-to-face with Him? Why would I fear leaving this sin-ridden planet?

Along with several other things, adopted “Think about heaven more and earth less. Fixate on the Throne of God,” as a goal for my winter quarter. Then I forgot about it.

But God doesn’t let us live down goals.

I know this is true because today’s message in church dealt with death maybe a little deeper than I wanted to go. The day’s passage was Ecclesiastes 7, from which reads:

“Everyone dies, so the living should take this to heart…
Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness had a refining influence on us.
A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time….
Don’t long for ‘the good old days.’ This is not wise…
Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard things strike, realize that both comes from God.
Remember that nothing is certain in life.

Wow. Did you read that?

So, what I’ve gathered from that is 1. I’m a fool 2. I could die at any second and 3. living life to the fullest probably doesn’t mean “sky divin’ or rocky mountain climbin’ or 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu.” Sorry, Tim McGraw. I’ll still go to your concert in May.

There’s a lot to be said about this passage because it has just so many layers, but I have a preliminary question and a few thoughts for now and perhaps I’ll give you more tomorrow…

Everyone dies. Everyone dies in God’s time. Everyone dies and there’s no way to predict its timing. That hold true for me, too. Am I ready?

Over the past 6 months, I’ve watched my grandmother’s health dwindle and at our last holiday gathering, her attitude and hope for life seemed to be doing the same. She was down on her inability to get around as fast as she used to and complained about pain, but amidst that, she said one of the most profound things I’d ever heard from her, “I never used to think I’d die. But now I see it coming. It’s hard to be ready.” At just 19, I still find that I resonate with her words.

I know for a fact I push the idea of death right on out of my mind whenever it passes through. I pretend like I’m immune to it. A lot of this has to do with me seeing the flaws in my life as it presently progresses and knowing these flaws don’t please God. When I face death, I face these sins like the headlights of a car in oncoming traffic. It’s blinding, even debilitating. When I face death, I face judgement and where God may ultimately place me. So, how can I be able to face death and face my sinful nature and make myself right and ready for God’s judgment?

Ecclesiastes is so spot on when it says, “A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time,” because pondering death often entails a full awareness of one’s current existence and sinful state. The wise person can look at their life without being blinded or debilitated and understand how it must be fixed. How to re-center and be revived by Christ. I’m inexperienced in this, for sure, but I see that this takes seeking God through prayer and worship, as well as self-examination and some thoughtful, critical soul-searching.

Not to mention, staring into the face of death makes us realize the promises God has made us through Jesus’s death. And that’s a wise move, to me.

And the fool, well, I know a little about that guy. That guy thinks only of “having a good time” because fun and laughter has a way of masking sin and neglecting Christ. While fun certainly has a place in the life of any godly individual, we must not assume that ‘living life to its fullest’ means going crazy with partying and debauchery. Perhaps living life to its fullest means some introspection, faith, and love.

I have lots more thoughts on this matter, but I’ll spread ’em out so I don’t overwhelm you.

Good tidings friends! Press on 🙂

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