Life and Death

James 3:14 “Yet you don’t know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away”

I think most people probably live their life like they are going to live forever. I don’t think we do that because we are ignorant. We have all heard that death and taxes are certain.  We have all been to enough funerals and seen enough breaking news stories to know that everybody dies in the end and that our time will come. We just deal with this knowledge differently.

Some (maybe most), choose to ignore it. The thought of our own death is quite unpleasant and dwelling on it would be somewhat morbid and since we can’t stop it from coming, what’s the point in worrying about it? We just choose to ignore the fact…and live out our days making things as comfortable for ourselves as possible. Eat, drink and be merry…for tomorrow we die…right? I can identify with this mindset….it certainly is better to me than the way some deal with death. When some people think of their own mortality…it breeds fear. They are afraid of it…and it paralyzes them. They live their life trying to be as safe as possible. They never take risks. They never venture out “after dark”. Fear is the foundational motivation behind their decisions in life. I’ve known quite a few people like this…they never get out of their safe little box. I’m just not a fan of this response.

So how should I live?

The above verse in James gives us the idea that we ahave a brief and limited amount of time on this earth between the cradle and the grave. So that means my time is valuable…I don’t have much of it…and I certainly don’t have as much of it left as I did 20 years ago. As a matter of fact…I’m not assured I have the next few minutes. I may not make it through this blog…which would be awkward for both of us. I don’t want to live like I am going to be on this earth forever….to me that seems somewhat frivolous and self-centered. If I live the rest of my time just to simply have fun and make things comfortable…I believe it would be wasted. I have already shared that I am not a fan of the alternate response… I am not going to live my life in fear. To me…that is not really living. I would rather be free and die than to live a long life enslaved by fear (I feel like I’ve heard that in a movie somewhere or something).

In 2006, through strange (yet divine) events I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. I didn’t know what it was either. But it means that just under my left ventricle in my heart I have an enlarged heart muscle that basically interferes with the transfer of blood when my heart pumps. It normally goes undetected until a person deals with its number one symptom, sudden death. It is the same heart disease you often hear of athletes suddenly dying from. They never knew they had it…it went untreated and caused heart failure during the stress of playing the sport etc. It was quite a shock to me to say the least…I had no idea anything was wrong and had played sports all of my life until that point. The doctors informed me at that time that I would never play competitive sports again, would always be under the care of a cardiologist, the disease is not curable…only containable and that they would be treating me with heart medications for the rest of my life. One of three things could happen….1) Nothing. I could live out the rest of my life normally. With no problems except for occasional palpatations and fatigue.  2) It could progress…the muscle would get thicker and cause worse complications. The next stage would be Congestive Heart Failure. There would be ablations. Internal defibrillators. Possible transplants. A lifetime of medical junk! or 3) Without warning my heart could begin to have sustained PVCs (get out of rythm) causing my heart to fail and I die.

At first I will admit I was somewhat fearful. There were some tears shed and prayers lifted. But then I became a little more educated about what I have. Understood that there are others who live with this condition and that it alone is not a death sentence.Actually.. now…I see it as a gift.

I know…that sounds strange…but hear me out. The heart issue got my attention. It reminded me that I will not live forever, which is not easy for a 30 yr old to hear. It reminded me that as far as I know…I may not have the next 10 minutes. Sure this could have been a curse…and I could have buried my head in the sand and allowed the disease to dominate my life and actions. (Which can still be a struggle sometimes…I admit). Or it could be a blessing. It has served to be a daily reminder every time I pop my meds in the morning that I don’t have much time left to have an impact in this life and truly make a difference for the cause of Christ and for His glory! God has allowed it to be a motivator for my actions in a positive way. Romans 8:28 says  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose”. Yes He can even use the knowledge of one’s mortality to bring about good in a person’s life. He has allowed me to see that with the time I have left…I want to invest every drop of it into something worthwhile…Him and His mission!

So I offer up a third response to you. When God allows you to become acutely aware of your fragility.  Instead of living  a life enslaved by fear or fruitless pursuit of vain pleasures. I challenge you to live out the rest of your days in pursuit of Christ and making His glory known in this generation. Let the thought of your own mortality drive you to Christ who is the only true giver of life….and life more abundantly!

Live life to the fullest, take risks, be adventurous – all for His name’s sake! You only get one trip around…

Soli Deo Gloria,

Brandon

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