How to Live a Life Worth Dying For
“I’m not afraid to die,” said a good friend of mine with ease.
Unlike many, she had already stared death in the face and won: having been diagnosed, treated, and pronounced cancer free. Like a soldier returning from battle she had wrestled with mortality in a way that was foreign to most.
I, on the other hand, timidly approached death from a distance. He made his way into my life on a rare snowy Thanksgiving Day in Texas. I was awakened by an unexpected early morning phone call signalling something was wrong. “You should come to the hospital now,” the nurse said.
Before we could get there my grandmother died. Within a two year period my grandfather did too, leaving my adolescent mind with haunting images of death: sickness, corpses, casket, and cemeteries.
Thus, death became uncomfortable to think and talk about; it still is.
Which is why I limit my daily news consumption and avoid violence filled movies. This is my futile attempt at self – preservation. Safe in my cozy little bubble I can pretend like death doesn’t exist – although I know it does.
Without a moment’s notice death will come for us all. No matter how much we try to super glue ourselves to this life, one day we will all say goodbye. Which should compel me to live better, shouldn’t it?
Unfortunately, despite this inescapable fate I still find myself chasing fleeting and superficial notoriety, greedily accumulating more stuff, and spending way too much time on social media. I know it’s shallow but being self absorbed is so seductive, especially when this seems to be the way everyone lives.
But no matter how deeply immersed I become in my own little world, when sudden death happens to someone in one of my circles it always pulls me back to sobriety.
I see more clearly that this life is not about preservation at all.
It happened two months ago when a fellow blogger was tragically killed in a house fire. She and three other family members were instantly taken from this earth. News of her death was like someone puncturing my little bubble with a stick pin: jolting my distracted mind back to what matters most.
Shortly after the announcement of her death a Facebook live video surfaced of her entitled “How You Finish Matters!” Ironically, she spoke about how to live so that people will speak well of you in death. Her words foreshadowed how she would be remembered just 8 months later.
I believe that although she left this earth suddenly and tragically she, like my friend, would have probably said I’m not afraid to die too. She had lived a life worth dying for: discovering what Jesus meant in Matthew 10: 39 (NIV), “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Before she ever experienced a physical death she had already encountered a death that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.
This invisible transition take place in the hearts of man but it can be seen in the uncommon actions of people who believe in Jesus Christ.
When people willingly choose to move in a direction that counters the one they would naturally choose on their own a spiritual death has occurred in their heart. This is the type of death Jesus modeled before he ever died on a cross.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2: 3 – 8 (NIV)
A life well lived comes by learning the art of dying to ourselves daily. In death we discover life. And although I’m not ready to die, death isn’t something to be feared. Our physical death should motivate us to make every make every moment count including the seemingly insignificant, obscure, tough, ugly, and routine ones.
This type of significance isn’t measured by material possessions but by my character. This is the type of life worth dying for.
”A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” Ecclesiastes 7:1 (KJV)