what if I died today?
Updated: May 5
For the past 24 hours, my newsfeed and internet browser has been full of nothing but updates and articles on the tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and 8 other people. Although I have already read so many articles on the event, I can't help but continue to click. I stare at the photos of the victims in shock. I shake my head in disbelief as I realize that so many families were ripped apart or destroyed in an instant. What a terrible, horrible, wake up call to those of us who are still living.
It makes all of us feel just a little bit more on edge. Suddenly that quick drive to the grocery store doesn't seem so mundane. That flight overseas for a vacation starts to make me feel a little hesitant. I want to hug my husband a little tighter before he leaves the house for work. We just never know what the future holds for us.
We have to be careful in moments like this because our natural response is fear. We become afraid of the future. We feel fearful that we might lose a loved one unexpectedly. With that fear comes paranoia. How will I possibly go on if someone I love dies? What will actually happen to me if I die? Will it be painful?
Does a fear of the unknown really help us? What does the Bible say about worry?
Phillippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these..."
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I really cling to these texts when I feel afraid. It is in these solemn, eye-opening moments that I am so thankful for my relationship with Jesus. When you know Jesus, you know that you don't have to worry. I'm not saying you won't worry, because it is completely normal to feel afraid- but you don't have to. God knows where your life leads. He knows what you will do and when you will die.
Have you ever experienced a near-death moment? I can think of a handful of times when I realized I had lost total control of my life. My earliest memory was when I was very little swimming in a pool. My younger brother jumped on my shoulders, pinning me under the water without a proper breath. The sheer panic I experienced at that moment still haunts me as I write this. Thankfully my dad was there and quickly pulled my brother off me, so I could come up for air.
Another time I was in a car crash which totaled my car. As my car spun across six lanes of highway traffic, it was very clear to me that I could do absolutely nothing to save myself. Thankfully, the other cars on the road were paying attention and stopped when I lost control. I hit the guard rail, bringing my vehicle to a halt and miraculously I was unharmed.
Most recently in college, I was playing flag football in a gym with some kids. I tripped near a wall while running full speed and slammed my head into the concrete surface. I was in and out of consciousness as the ambulance came and took me to the emergency room. I was given morphine for the severe pain in my head. For a month I was on bed rest with a severe concussion, shattered front teeth, and stitches in my chin. I had nothing to do but stare at the ceiling and realize that I only survived because God kept me here on earth.
Many people want to avoid the types of situations I just shared with you, but I am actually thankful for them. Sure, I could've walked away from what happened to me full of anxiety or depression. I could tell myself I would never swim, drive, or run in a gym again. Instead, I chose to accept that I have no control over if I will live or die. It is only God who keeps me alive and wakes me up each day. When I accepted this, I found so much peace. Suddenly any future surgeries, trips, or risky situations don't daunt me quite so much. I know I am in God's hands.
You might not like this approach. Maybe you think I am advocating for a reckless or careless lifestyle. I'm not saying it isn't useful to eat healthily, take safety precautions, and exercise. I'm not trying to downplay the value of wearing your seatbelt or a good doctor's visit... but we must realize that even the healthiest people get cancer. Even the best athletes can suffer heart attacks. Even unhealthy people can live long lives! We give ourselves this false sense of security by micromanaging our health, our diets, and sometimes even our decisions. We must realize that we simply cannot control our destinies. We can give ourselves the best chance, but it is God who truly keeps us going.
This is why I believe the most important thing you can do for yourself is to get to know God. I urge you to read the Bible and accept Jesus as your Savior. This is the only decision that you have over your own life that actually matters. There is nothing else you can do for yourself to ensure your future. When you accept Jesus, you know that it doesn't matter when you die. It doesn't matter because it is only a temporary pause on an eternal legacy. When you know God, you know reality. The earth is not all that exists... heaven is waiting for us.
In more recent years I've tried to take a moment each day and thank God for life. I tell him that as long as he keeps me going, I will seek after the ministry and purpose he has for me to carry out. I do not believe I would still be alive writing this today if I didn't still have some work to do for God. I know I will die someday, but I don't have to worry about it because when that day comes, I will be ready to go. In the meantime, I don't have to focus on the future. Instead, I can live in the moment of today knowing that God's got me covered.
I wouldn't be able to properly end this post without also acknowledging the things that we cannot know. I realize that for many of us who have lost loved ones, we do not believe that their earthly legacy was over. We talk about how "the good die young". Many heartbroken families have lost children or babies. How could I possibly believe that a baby's life legacy was over? This is the time when we must rely on our faith.
I believe the young who have passed away will be reunited with their families in heaven. We must look at the things we DO know about God, and recognize that a loving God would have a good reason for allowing that to happen, even if we can't comprehend what it is. We must also not forget to cast the blame on the true criminal- the devil. He is the source of every pain, sadness, and death in the world. God had to allow these things to occur so that we could truly have a chance to choose between good and evil... he didn't abandon us. We must not lose sight of salvation.