- Religion and Philosophy
How Will I Die? It Depends on How I Live.
The Most Natural, Unnatural Experience
How will I die? When will I die? This question has haunted many throughout the centuries. Death is a strange phenomenon. It may be one of the few human experiences that unite us with others around the world and throughout the ages. Many fear it. Some long for it. And there are many who either ignore its reality completely or, on the other hand, become obsessed with it. What is on the other side of life? Is there really a heaven and hell and if so, how do I know where I'll end up? Will I just cease to exist? These questions, and many more, are common things people want to know about related to their mortality.
Death is paradoxically one of the most natural, unnatural experiences of humanity. We accept it as fate yet deep within our very nature, we battle against it. I believe that eternity is planted into the hearts of all men and women. It is as if we know that we were meant for more that our fleeting experience on this Earth.
Death has changed me. I will not attempt to answer all of the questions stated above, for these are the questions that each must seek answers to as a part of his or her own journey. But what I do want to share is how death has affected me. I suppose one of the reasons I feel drawn towards writing about death is because it's been around my block more than once. In second grade, my best friend was hit by a car and killed. It was surreal. One moment Laura was there and the next she was gone. I remember feeling a sense of urgency rise up within me. I saw that life was fragile and I determined to live each day fully in order to make the most of it.
It is Better to Go to a House of Mourning
In middle school and high school, I lost people around me at an alarming rate. Courtney made a deadly choice in a boyfriend—shot and killed. Kris in the wrong place at the wrong time—shot and killed. Great grandma's surgery didn't go as planned and we had to say goodbye. Susie was on a bus that she normally wasn't on when a train crashed into it. Grandpa had a mysterious death. Chris's cancer never went away. And Shane was driving just a little too fast around a sharp corner. Doug didn't know that overtime at the construction site would mean the end of his time with his wife and kids. Then there was the tragedy of suicides. Unexpected discoveries of lives so tormented that they could only tell us in a letter after they were gone.
With each funeral I attended, I experienced the meaning of the verse in Ecclesiastes 7:2 which says, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart." It's not that I enjoyed attending funerals—quite the contrary. But every time I faced death, I found more purpose in life. Each cycle of grieving loss helped me to appreciate what I still had. I chose not to let the trivial, superficial, and unimportant matters of life get to me. I see things in much more of a "Big Picture" kind of way. When stress, fear, annoyance, or striving to meet the demands of others comes knocking at my door, I can much easier say, "No thanks—I'm not interested." When I say "no" to stress, I can say "yes" to peace. When I say "no" to fear, I can say "yes" to faith. And so on, and so on.
Death Has Taught Me to Be Me
At the end of my life when I look back on who I was and how I lived, I want to be able to say that I had no regrets. I want to take a chance on loving, even if that opens the door to experiencing pain. I don't want to live to work, but want to work on living. I want to take the road less traveled even if others don't understand it because I know it’s the path that holds my destiny. I don't want to sacrifice who I am for who others think I should be. I'm not willing to forsake my dreams in order to live according to others' preferences of "how things should be." I don't need to "get real" and settle for how things are. I want to "be real" and change the status quo. Life is not about scraping by or just making it through. Life is to be lived abundantly and thoroughly.
Not only has death been one of my best teachers on how to live, but I know that ultimately death will be the door through which I pass unto eternal life. I have already died with Christ so I know that death has no power over me. As Paul, an apostle put it, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." Another translation says, "Christ means everything to me in this life, and when I die I'll have even more." I know that all of the tears I've sown will reap a harvest of joy. I see my life as soil. Each sorrow has been a shovel full of dirt removed. Over time, a grave has been dug through the hardships and pains of life. But this grave is not about death, but about life. For I have died with Christ and His grave is empty! When the life-giving waters of rain fall from the heavens, the hole in the ground becomes a well that holds much water. These waters refresh others who are weary and sad. What could have been a lack in me, became a gift I could offer to others, as God fulfills His promise and makes His strength perfect in my weakness. Jesus said that all who thirst can come to Him and drink freely from the waters of eternal life. I am in Him and He is in me so I say come—all who are burdened and weary—come and drink and enter into the love of God which is stronger than the grave
How Can I Help You?
I'd like to conclude this Hub in a unique way. If you are in the process of grieving a loss or searching for the "more" of life, please leave a comment with enough detail that I can respond by praying for you. I'd love to support and encourage you through whatever you may be facing. Even if you just need an ear to listen and a heart to care, I'd like to be that for you here.