Once upon a time, I sold life insurance. It was interesting to me what shut down conversations faster: “Hi I’m a Baptist Pastor” or “Hi, I’m a Life Insurance Guy”. In case you’re wondering, saying both is a sure fire way to stop most discussions.
While I don’t sell life insurance anymore, death is the unfortunate reality common to both professions. I know this is not a fun topic to deal with, but our mortality remains the greatest problem that everyone of us will face.
Generally speaking, I see people responding in two ways.
Today we are surrounded by a dizzying array of marketing designed to help us fight against our own mortality. We are challenged to live longer, live fuller, and look younger.
Welsh poet Dylan Thomas captured this thought well when he said
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Every time an anti-wrinkle cream hits the market or a new product is introduced, we are told that it will help us “rage against the dying of the light.” Prevention and health magazines promise to help increase our sex drive and energy levels. Medical advances are promoted to help us live longer and live fuller lives. All of them designed to help us not to go gently into the night.
Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with living up to our God-given potential at every age, but I’m talking about something different. I’m talking about living in fear of the end of life and flailing against it.
I personally think it’s even scarier when I hear people saying they don’t think about the end of their lives at all because they are “living in the moment”. That’s great until we are experiencing the moment of our death. Many people in my son’s generation have not considered the end of life because they are too busy living life. Hypster Guru points this out.
“Polls show that a large majority of millennials are turning from the church, and from a belief that God controls life and death, and embracing a secular humanism that places much greater value on controlling your own destiny through your behavior and lifestyle.”
Since many of the institutions that provided answers are being abandoned we have to be even more intentional in our efforts. If not, then we may find that focusing on the moment while ignoring our own mortality is like ignoring an alligator in our backyard. Sooner or later, you will be face to face. It would be wise not to let him catch you off guard.
What’s Your Answer
While it’s no fun to think about, how have you dealt with the reality of your own mortality?
I don’t want you to get out of this thought process too easily. It’s probably obvious that, as a pastor, I would turn to my faith as the best solution. However, if I simply say “believe in Jesus”, everyone will be able to bail out of thinking it through.
For example, if you are a not a Christian, it would be too easy to dismiss my beliefs as a religious fortune cookie. Just another short-sighted, narrow-minded Baptist. Why listen to him? Well, whether my beliefs are true or not doesn’t change the fact that each of us will face the end of our life. Once the end of our life is in front of us, it might be too late to think it through.
For the Christians, it would also be too easy read “believe in Jesus” and mentally eject. Yes, as a believer in Jesus Christ I have complete confidence that after death I will experience everlasting life. However, I’m still scared about the process of death. Have we been honest with ourselves not just about the afterlife, but also the end of life? I do hear many fortune cookie answers here. I’ll do another post about this another time. For now, let’s just leave it as an issue that requires intentional thought from all of us.
Whatever your belief system, I invite you to spend a bit of time and think through these questions:
- Is this life all there is?
- What happens after I die?
- How do I know for sure?
Again, I know these are not fun questions. I do hope you will think about them sooner rather than later.
In other posts, I have encouraged and invited you to consider the Christian answers to these questions. That invitation still stands. If you would like to hear the very heartbeat of the Christian faith, it’s easy. Come check out Easter. That’s the time you can hear the one belief that holds it all together.
Also, here are two resources.
- If you would like a short book to read and consider, you may have The Case for Easter as my gift to you. Just click HERE to go to my contact page. Email me your mailing info, and I will send it to you. No strings attached.
- You may also listen to a message I gave recently about death and suffering. Just click HERE to go to the page.
Join the Conversation. How have you prepared for the end of life?