The shootings this past week have gotten my attention. I know this terrible action wasn’t a first, but it was a first for me. For the first time, as I grieved with our fellow Americans, it hit me that it could have been me. In reality, it could have been my wife and I doing some Christmas shopping of our own at the mall. It could have been my niece at that school. This has shaken me.
As I grieve with and pray for the families of the victims, I cannot help but consider death. I don’t mean to be morbid or irreverent, but how many of us consider the fact that we all will one day die. As a 22-year old young man, I will admit that this fact escapes me more often than not. Surely the classic writer François Fenelon’s words suit me all too well:
“We consider ourselves immortal, or at least as though going to live for centuries.”
I consider myself immortal. Of course I don’t believe this intellectually, but I live and act like it. I spend too much of my time on trivial matters that won’t matter in a week, let alone in eternity. I exert too much of my energy and emotions on efforts to obtain things that are temporary and unnecessary. I think too much about thoughts that surely will not cross my mind in my last moments.
But what if I considered the fact that my time, energy, emotions, and thoughts were limited resources? What would I do differently if I considered my own mortality? How would I live if I considered that barring Christ’s return, I will one day meet death? Clearly our lives would be spent differently. That’s the point.
I don’t want to find myself in my last moments wishing that I considered death and the questions it brings, such as “Where will I spend eternity?” “Ah, I’m a Christian,” you say. “I know the answer to that one.” But this is just one of many, for while I am also a Christian and know that answer with all my heart, I should still consider, “What am I doing that will last? What will I leave to those behind me? What will my life stand for? At the moment of my death, how many will have been given life, because I gave God my all?”
We avoid these thoughts because we are scared of death. But if we ask these questions now and prepare accordingly, we have no need to fear it. Paul, a man who was very familiar with death because he often found himself on its doorstep, says with no fear, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die as gain.” The only person that has to fear death is the one who ignores it, for he is the one who has chosen to meet death unprepared.
I pray that none of us will fear death, but consider it.