On Mortality and the Brevity of Life

I was sitting at lunch last Sunday when my son texted me. It was a simple message with breaking news about a sports star, which is not out of the ordinary for our typical father-son text conversations. Except this one was a little different: “Did you hear that Kobe Bryant died?”

I shared the message with others at the table, and everyone proceeded to click their phones to social media or Google to check to see if this news was really true, or another cruel hoax about a celebrity’s death. Obviously, it didn’t take long for us to discover this was a reality, that the basketball legend’s helicopter had gone down Sunday morning outside of Calabasas, California.

I don’t remember when the sudden death of a celebrity hit so many people so hard. People of all ages, basketball fans and not, seemed to be overcome with deep emotion and grief at the loss of Bryant, along with his daughter Giana and seven others who died in the crash. I have seen more public grappling with issues of life and death over this tragedy than anything I can remember, maybe since Sept. 11, 2001.

And as sad as the tragic loss of life may be–whether it’s a celebrity or a family member or friend close to us–such a time can be a healthy reminder for all of us of our mortality and the brevity of our lives. Sometimes we need to be shocked into remembering that life is short, eternity is forever, and none of us ever know when our time will come.

Hebrews 9:27 reminds us, “It is appointed for a man to die once, and after that judgment.” In other words, like everyone else you and I have an appointment with physical death, which means all of our days here on earth are numbered. We only have a limited time to live, to love, to give, to serve, to make a difference, so it’s best we not waste our days on frivolous pursuits, when eternity stares us in the face very day.

The Psalmist wrote: “Teach us to number our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  (Psalm 90:12)  We count our days, so we can make our days count. Whatever it takes, we all need to be reminded sometimes in the ebb and flow of life to “be careful how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  (Ephesians 5:15-16).

By the way, I’m glad that we don’t have anything to fear about dying, since Jesus has conquered death and the grave on our behalf, and we have the assurance that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” “O death where is your sting?” the apostle Paul asked. It’s gone. Thanks be to God, it’s long gone. I hope you know that blessed assurance.

In the meantime, I’m sure glad the Lord has allowed us to spend this little bit of time we have here on earth together, serving Him through such a wonderful church like Shelby Crossings. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken