Living to Die
Have you ever noticed that whenever something bad happens, it seems like it’s a whole lot of bad all at once? We don’t just get a raindrop here and there, but a sudden thunderstorm with lightning and thunder and the works.
It’s been a hard month for a lot of our good friends. A lot of bad things have happened and it all just seems to be piling up on top of each other. The worst was the sudden death of a father in our local homeschool community from a biking accident.
It’s a really tragic thing when something awful happens to those we love, especially death. It seems even worse when it’s that unexpected. To think about kissing someone goodbye in the morning and then never seeing them again… It’s just unfathomable.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately (shocking, I know!), and it seems like my mind just keeps drawing back to the same conclusion: Isn’t this where we’re all heading anyway? Death, I mean. The death rate is always the same: One out of one people die. That’s everyone. You could live a totally healthy and spot-on life, exercising regularly and eating all the right foods, and then hit a tree and die on the way to work. Or you could be feeling perfectly fine one morning and then get a call from the doctor a few hours later with the most devastating and sobering news imaginable. There’s really nothing we can do to stop death or make it come later.
So, in a way, the reality I have discovered is this: We are all living to die. That much is a fact. We are put on this earth for so much time, and then our time is up. That’s not going to change. The thing we do have power over, however, is this:
Are we viewing death as an ally or a foe?
Now, before you get all freaked out on me, hear me out. Death doesn’t really have to be a bad thing. To the Christian, death is the sweetest possible conclusion imaginable. It’s like the happy ending to a tumultuous story. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that for the Christian, to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord.
One way that I like to think about it is like this: Whenever our family goes on vacation, we have the best time ever. All of us kids hang out and laugh and talk together (and fight sometimes, admittedly), and have such a generally good time that when that last day of our trip comes to an end and we know we have to go home, I get that sad feeling in my stomach. Sometimes I don’t really want to go home, because I’m having such a good time away from it. But the moment I step in the front door, and flip on the light switch to see the inside of our house, or flop onto my bed and smell the fresh laundry detergent and hear my sisters laughing in the hallway, I know: Home is the absolute best place on earth.
When my uncle died a few years ago, we played a song at his funeral called “Homesick” by MercyMe. I think that song describes everything that the Christian should feel about death in a nutshell. It’s hard to think about our loved ones in heaven without us, while we’re stuck on earth by ourselves. But we shouldn’t dread that moment when we too will arrive home. It’s difficult sometimes not to be “homesick”, and to miss the ones we love, but I think it takes that little bit of that homesickness to keep us moving toward, viewing death as the destination, not just a bitter ending.
We’re all really living to die, in a way. The real question is whether or not we see it that way. Am I viewing every day as a new opportunity to seek fellowship with God, or to lead someone in the way of truth, all the while storing up heavenly riches and blessings? I know that I will die someday, maybe tomorrow, maybe seventy years from then. But until now, I don’t think I’ve been viewing death in the right light. I’ve been seeing it as an inevitable hurdle and burden. But I know now that both life and death can be blessings. If we are Christians, then our life of toils and burdens, joys and love, is meant to prepare us for the sweetest kind of life: Eternal life, in Heaven with our Savior.