While I was home over break, two of my personal role models passed away a week apart. Their deaths were not surprising, since both were over the age of 80 and had begun to experience serious health complications. However, the loss of these two men had a profound effect on my perspective regarding life and death.
I distinctly remember a point in each of their medical battles where the prayers of my church congregation went from praying that God would heal them to praying that He would bring them to be with Him in Heaven. At the time, these prayers bothered me. I understood and even agreed with the sentiment behind them, but I could not stop thinking about them.
Like most people, I fear death. I believe this fear is irrational, to an extent, because death is unavoidable. Despite thinking this, I was still afraid.
The more I thought about my eventual death, the more I discovered about myself. Simply put, I fear death because I have not done anything lasting with my life. In my mind, I always had more time in the future. Then, I had thought, I would do something for the Lord. But what if I had less time than I thought?
Although both of my role models had lived into their 80s, I am not guaranteed that much time. A couple of years ago, the unexpected suicide of a high school sophomore shook my community. A few years before that, a man who lived less than 30 minutes away from my town murdered two teenagers after luring them into his house. Young people die all the time. I could become one of them.
At this point in my existential crisis, I began to worry. The question “What if I die before I accomplish anything?” became a persistent thought that would not leave me alone.
Then, as a last resort, I did something that should have been my first resort: I prayed. At this point, I was drawn to a verse in Luke 21 that refers to Christ’s second coming.
“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” (Luke 21:34)
The answer to my question became obvious. I needed to live every day as though it were my last.
This revelation naturally brought with it a question of its own: if I truly believed my time was limited, how would I spend it?
First, I would make sure I was spiritually ready for death by maintaining my devotions and ensuring I was without any unrepented sin.
Then, I would focus most of my time on others, especially the people I cared about, and not waste my time exclusively on selfish short-term enjoyment. I would look for opportunities to praise God in everything, even the little things.
This realignment in my perspective has forced me to realize how much time I waste on things with no lasting significance. Although the several weeks since my epiphany have been hit-or-miss in terms of actually following through with my goal, I plan to remain dedicated to living each day for Christ. My life is too short to only commit part of it to Christ.