A life ended yesterday, a life I didn’t know well but can’t help but mourn.
Death is so common yet so surprising when it happens. We all know it’ll come to us someday. None of us can escape it, but until an “unexpected” death happens, we forget that for any of us, any day could be our last.
This death hit home because he was not much older than my parents. And he was a church leader. And he was a husband to a wife, father to children.
I believe God knows the time each of us will die, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying that someday my husband won’t come home from work or one of us will get cancer or whatever else I can (and try not to) imagine might bring death to our door.
I take for granted that I’ll have another day. Sometimes I put off till tomorrow what I should do now, thinking I’ll always have time. While processing through the death of this man, I urgently want to do practical things like buy a life insurance policy and create a will so my children will be taken care of if my husband and I die while they are young.
More importantly, I want to do everything God wants me to do when He wants me to do it. To stop slacking as a Christian and seek Him with all that I am, eager to obey.
We just watched an episode of “Biggest Loser” where the final four contestants had to run a marathon as their last challenge. I’m not a runner nor do I want to be, but I noticed something about these people as they approached the finish line.
They were tired from having run 26+ miles, but when they saw the finish line, some of them sprinted. Somewhere within them, they found an extra burst of energy to carry them across the finish line. They didn’t want to limp or drag or walk across the finish line; they intended to run and finish well.
The apostle Paul encouraged the early church with running metaphors. This verse came to mind as I watched the show: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinithians 9:24, NIV)
Only one Biggest Loser contestant could finish first, but all who finished received a prize. For the Christian, there is no first or last, but all who finish will be rewarded. I don’t want to be found limping, crawling or walking toward my heavenly reward. I want to run!
Being tired is no excuse. Again, Paul said to the early believers:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, NIV)
I don’t consider myself old by any means, but I know that I am getting older and that tomorrow is no guarantee. Tragedies like yesterday’s, though, cement that reality in my mind.
And I think of these words from James:
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14)
I’m guilty of planning ahead, of thinking about what will happen in our lives tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. I want to be prepared, but I’ve learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to God. At the same time, I know I can expect to die sometime, so I should leave nothing unsaid, nothing undone that God wants me to say or do.
I know that if I fail, that won’t keep me from heaven, but I want to end each day knowing that I did what God wanted and if it was His choosing to take me, I’d be ready.
Others who knew him better have said this man lived that way, that he was ready. So, really, his life didn’t end yesterday; it’s just beginning.
Knowing that for certain is the most important thing.