I just caught a brief glimpse of the message that came across my iPhone yesterday afternoon and thought I’d misread it: “Kobe Bryant Dies in Helicopter Crash.”
Soon I realized it was true. The 41-year-old retired N.B.A. superstar of the Los Angels Lakers had died in a tragic accident. Compounding the tragedy, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, along with 7 other people also perished in the crash.
Soon expressions of sympathy, sorrow and shock began pouring in from around the sports world, as well as from fans, friends, and neighbors for 18 time All-Star who won 5 N.B.A. Championships.
Among the many stories already surfacing, the LA Times reported that a Newport Beach resident, Josh Leith, after hearing the news, walked over to a poster hanging in the house and stood in silent reflection. It was a poster of Bryant emblazoned with the word “Invincible.” While Kobe seemed like an invincible force on the basketball court during his 20-year career with the Lakers, his life, like all of ours, was not invincible.
It’s somewhat ironic that it takes the tragic death of a celebrity to remind us that life is fragile. Relatively brief. And vulnerable. We’re slapped in the face with the stark reality of our own mortality.
King David expressed it in these simple words: “There is a step between me and death’ (1 Sam. 20:3). And we never know how close that step actually is.
Metaphorically the Bible describes our earth life as a vanishing vapor. A fleeting shadow. A fading flower.
It is also good to be reminded that, according to the United Nations statistics “approximately 7,452 people die every day in the United States. In other words, a person dies in the US approximately every 12 seconds.”
These real-life reminders ought to jolt us into daily living a life that is purposeful, passionate, and principled.
“The ultimate expression of life is not a paycheck. The ultimate expression of life is not a Mercedes. The ultimate expression of life is not a million dollars or a bank account or a home,” once wrote Jim Rohn in a blog post. “The ultimate expression of life is living a good life.”
Too often we think of a good life in material or momentary terms. Fame, fortune, and fun sound like a good life. Yet, there is more.
Mark Twain once quipped, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
The Bible tells us why.
We understand that it all begins with God. We’re created in His image. We’re more than flesh, blood, and bones. We’ve been endowed with a spirit that will live on in eternity.
The good life is a God-life. It seeks to please Him. And bring him pleasure. In turn, it provides for us peace and purpose. It is a life that is founded in faith, driven by hope, and expressed in love for God and our fellow-man.
Life’s prosperity and pleasure can be enjoyed in the proper perspective. The blessings from God allow us, not to idolize them, but to use them as a means to a greater goal.
“Life is a test, life is a trust, and life is a temporary assignment,” observed Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life. Indeed, the Bible teaches that we will be tested by life’s trials and temptations. And we’re entrusted by God as stewards of all that we’ve been given while we’re here.
Life here, we’re forewarned when we come face to face with death, is temporary and transitory. In the final years of her life, after she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma my Mom often reminded us, “We’re not put on this earth to live forever.” Life’s destiny is to die. Sooner or later.
The Good News is because of Jesus’ life and death on the cross, we can live an abundant life now, regardless of its length, and live with the confidence of the life that is to come (Jn 10:10; I Tim. 4:8).
Let us, therefore live each day responsibly, following the righteousness of God, with a recognition of our fleshly mortality and in hope of eternal immortality.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman