I don’t think about death that often. Probably a habit of an emotionally stable person. I just don’t. My own mortality doesn’t come up on the radar too frequently.
A few weeks ago I was caught in a heavy down pour coming home from work. I was cruising around 65 when my car started swerving dramatically from left to right. My speed dropped. My pulse went up. And I managed to regain control of the vehicle. I came to an overpass and put my car in park to avoid the rain. And let the fear churning in my gut pass.
At any conscious or unconscious level, based on that event, I don’t think I’m ready to face my demise. At 24, I think theres a few more milestones I’d like to hit. Henri Nouwen in his book on spiritual formation, comments on his [more serious] brush with death; that his grasp on life was based on a conviction that he had “unfinished work” to attend to.
I’m sure there are a thousand reasons to want to live rather than die. It’s our natural desire to want to survive. And it’s true, God himself must want us to live. That’s why we’re living. At the same time, He also foreknows our death. The issue of dying, the afterlife, and embracing it’s inevitability is unavoidable in scripture:
O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
Surely a man goes about as a shadow! (Ps. 29:4-5)
I don’t think the idea here is to live in morbid fixation on death. I do think, however, that a healthy awareness of our days as numbered will improve the purpose of our days through a sense of urgency.
Nouwen adds in his comment, “I have a deep sense that if we could move from denying to befriending our death before we die, if we could relate to death as a familiar quest instead of a threatening enemy, we would be freer of fear, guilt, and resentment.”
May my resolve be that of David. That “I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.” My journey begins and ends with You. I was born of love and I will die into love. Help me to live with a healthy awareness with my days as numbered that I may put them to good use for Your kingdom. When that day comes, may I enter joyfully in knowing that I have arrived home.