The Reality of Death
*Disclaimer: This article is part of a three part piece, and the themes here will be continued in my next two articles*
What do Adolf Hitler, Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Queen Elizabeth, Benjamin Franklin, Julius Caesar, Amelia Earhart, and William Wallace all have in common? These influential men and women all changed the world, for better or for worse. They came from different countries, time periods, and religious backgrounds. Yet there is one element of their stories that is the same.
They are all dead.
No matter what they accomplished, no matter what they achieved, they are still all buried six feet under. There is a certain finality in that, the fact that they all came to the same end eventually. For all their great efforts, none could escape the grim reaper’s scythe.
I don’t mean to sound so morbid, but lately I have been thinking about that one certainty in human existence, that sooner or later I will die. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Sooner or later (hopefully later) I will die. Be it a car accident, gunshot wound, or the simple and pressing passage of time. So, with that eventuality in the back of my mind, what I am doing with the life I have left? Am I cherishing and utilizing every moment as much as possible, actually living my life to the fullest, or am I simply surviving from day to day?
It is said that when Roman leaders came back from a great victory, they often had a parade in their honor. The leader would ride through the town in a great chariot, soaking in the glory of his victories from his grateful populace. With the leader in the ceremonial chariot there would be a servant, a sort of truthspeaker. It was the truthspeaker’s job to quietly remind the Great Leader, among all the noise and spectacle of the celebration, that one day he would die. It was an effort to keep the leader humble, and remind him of how short life really was.
Depressing right? Life is short, and one day we will die. Yet I’m not saying that we should live our lives in fear of death, rather I feel that we need our own personal truthspeakers. We need to remind ourselves of our own frailty, and embrace the precious seconds we are given. The Bible says that “I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 8:15 ESV). We should take joy in the life God has given us, and use it to further His Kingdom and Glory.
We also have a purpose in life. As Christians we believe in an afterlife, we believe in heaven, and that the things we do here actually matter after we are gone. We can change the eternal fate of those around us, and leave a lasting impact on this world. Therefore your life does matter, and what you do before you die actually makes a difference.
I urge you to make every day count, because it could be your last. Man’s life is like a breath, barely a whisper in the lifetime of the Earth. If you go to school here at NCU, I implore you take seriously your time here. Make the most of the many opportunities available to you, don’t waste away your time. I would also ask that all of us take a moment and consider the reality of death, and then cherish our gift of life.