Memories of a beautiful girl, Kelly Zander marrying her Jordan.
Memories of a beautiful girl, Kelly Zander marrying her Jordan.

A friend told me recently that when astronauts go into outer space, they have thought about what could go wrong and are equipped for scenarios that may or may not eventuate in the unknown.

It made me think:
Perhaps thinking about would could go wrong is the best way to live.

Take death. If you have never thought about it, you have probably never contemplated or prepared for heaven and eternity.

Take it one step further.  If you have never accepted your mortality, you have probably never really lived in the wonder of the present and the joy that comes from the fact you are breathing right now.

One of the unexpected consequences of living with a terminal illness longer than you were meant to is that those you come to know (and love) pass away around you.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve lived with death up close and personal: people too young, stories too sad.  Over that time, I’ve known others who have lost their ability to speak, to walk, to breath unassisted, and even eat.

One friend, Jordan, I have marvelled at.  He relentlessly supported, loved and then watched his beautiful wife Kelly pass into eternity on January 30, 2016.  Kelly’s big heart touched many lives.  I married them only eight years ago (pictured above).  I grieved with her parents and her husband, my tears with theirs.

Maybe you would rather me not talk about the realities of life so authentically.  I could shy away from doing so, but then I look at Jesus.  We read in the Bible that He talks boldly about His impending death (Luke 9:22-31).  He didn’t pretend it wasn’t going to happen and He didn’t think talking about it would change any of the facts around its reality.

Talking about death does not jinx you. It does not bring it on early or stop its inevitability.

Death is inevitable.

You believe it as well.  That’s why our human instinct, our responses and actions do everything we can to fight it, to delay it, and to resist it. And that’s a good thing.

Life is too precious not to resist death.

Not a single person is immune.  No amount of money, planning, or, dare I say praying, will allow you to escape this unavoidable reality.  Yes, money may buy medication to lengthen life, in the same way a miraculous healing or being raised from the dead like Lazarus may give you more time here on this earth.  You may have succeeded in putting it off for now and in doing so, prolonged the inevitable, but it is coming.

Death should not be feared.

Christianity doesn’t teach us that we will not die, it reveals to us that death for a Christian is as inevitable as it is for anyone else, but it has lost its fear, its sting.  Death is more of a beginning than an ending.  Death for us is just an absence from the body, being present with the Lord.  The Bible teaches that if we believe in Jesus and accept His forgiveness, then though we die, yet shall we live.

The experience of death is the crucible where humanity often decides once and for all whether to accept or reject God.  Death can be a catalyst for why people believe or disbelieve in God, why people walk away from God or move towards Him.  One thing is for sure, death will not allow us to ignore God.

I have seen people face death and suffering with one of two responses: either, “How could a loving God allow this to happen?” or “I know God’s love is with me while this is happening.”

When we choose to respond by acknowledging God’s love, His help and His presence in the furnace of our suffering, then we discover God’s power to turn darkness to light and death to life.  The wonder is that while the flesh is perishing, the Spirit can become stronger and more alive.  In fact, the Bible says our body dies in weakness and is raised in power (1 Corinthians 15:43).

Attention to your physical world, your body, your health, or quality of life can give you much desired “extra” time, but attention to the Spirit will determine the level of joy and thankfulness you live with in the time we have.

What do I mean by that?

Have you noticed that when a friend dies, we give more attention to those we love?  For me, that’s my wife, children, and close friends.  For a week or two after we are confronted with a death, we seem to recalibrate our values and refocus on the important.  But soon enough, we slide back into a false sense of immortality that can rob us of living now and being thankful.

What if you took a moment, or five, and just thought about this: if death is inevitable, how do I want to live?

If this year was your last, or this day was your concluding; how would you live?  Who would you touch?  Where would you presence yourself?  Why would you be and do?  What would you say?  When would you truly be awake to the life that is yours to live?  Would you leave a legacy?

I have been advised to “bank” my voice.  That means, to record my voice digitally so that if the day ever comes when I lose that ability, my computer can speak on my behalf, using my own digitally formatted voice.  The day is actually coming when technology will be so advanced that it will be able to speak what I think.  I just hope I can turn it off quick enough when my thoughts aren’t so acceptable (haha)!

Banking my voice will take many days of speaking into a microphone alone in a room.  I have asked myself the question, “is doing that neutralising the faith I have never to lose my voice?”  No. I don’t believe it is.  No more than taking out life, accident, or house insurance and yet still believing you will never have to use it.

Reflecting on death itself, or reflecting on the loss of my voice, can either take me down, or it can compel decisions in my life to use my voice as much as is humanly possible. I am blogging less and speaking more this year, while I can.  I am saying “I love you” more than I ever have.

Perhaps thinking about would could go wrong is the best way to live.