What would it be like to live knowing when you were going to die? I know this might not be the most positive topic, but think about it. A lot of people have tried to figure this out for years. After all, our life is an important thing to us. We do many things to prolong it.
But, what would go through your mind if you were on an airplane and you suddenly realized you were going to crash? Would you panic? Would you be calm? Would you gather pillows and try to survive? Passengers on a British Airways flight recently were faced with this after a recording played twice stating that the plane was going to crash in the water. (Story) I can’t even imagine the chaos on that plane as not once, but twice the crew had to reassure passengers that they were actually not going to crash. I have flown quite a bit and don’t even really think about crashing anymore. Yet, I find events like these interesting. I like to watch those plane disaster shows where they reenact crashes and describe all the details of crashes. I think the reason I find them interesting is the chain of events that lead to the crash. How does it happen? Where is the error? Also, my mind goes to the passengers to try and understand what it would be like to realize you are going to crash and likely die.
This last week we all also watched the story of the cruise ship that flipped on its side in too shallow of water. I again wondered what terror that would be for the people on that ship. One moment you are having dinner and the next you are in a state of confusion, fighting for your life.
Many people live life in the moment, as if this is all we have to look forward to. If that were the case, then it would make sense to try to gather as much stuff as we can. But, even if that is what is said, it seems to me that most people at least wonder about life after death. Some people wish to enjoy life when they are young and then ‘get right with God’ later in life.
Those sorts of thoughts are shattered when young people are killed. Last week we had a tragedy on the Cape in a local high school community. There was a young lady, 18 years old, hit by a car who then later died. That is an awful tragedy, that breaks my heart as a youth pastor. As we talked about it at youth group I realized that the real issue for so many students is that they have not come to grips with the reality of death. Death is always something that happens to other people. A few days before that there was a man driving on the highway on his way to take his parents to the airport; He rolled his car and died. Then just Sunday there were two guys flying an airplane that ended up crashing into the water just off shore here. This is as real as it gets, but so many teenagers (and adults) ignore it. We work in youth ministry to try to help them see that there is an eternity and that they need to pay attention because life is short.
High school students love to take risks and just waste a lot of time. Time is a valuable resource that needs to be used wisely. I know I don’t want to get to the end of life and regret not spending enough time with my family. I know I don’t want to stand before God and realize that I did not do what He wanted me to do. But, the concept that life is short gets lost somewhere in between games of Halo and incessant Facebook chat.
The thing is, we know that we are going to die. We know this. No one will dispute it. And yet, so much of life is wasted on that which is meaningless. So much life is wasted pursuing things that are not able to go with when you die. It doesn’t matter how much stuff you have, it matters whether you are righteous or not. Righteousness is a gift to us from God through His son Jesus Christ. We do not earn that, we receive it.
I am not sure I really would want to know the time of my death. I am not sure how I would react in one of those scenarios. What I do know is that I am alive now and can make the most of the time given to me. No, we do not need to go through life being obsessed with death. I do believe that we need to come to grips with our mortality every day because who knows when it will catch up to us.
“Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” -Proverbs 11:4