Early last Monday a 21 year old man named Luis Sarmiento got into a car crash in New Jersey. Luckily, he was alive and well enough to walk away from his crippled Honda Accord. Over the next 25 minutes, Luis manages to walk a half of a mile down the Garden State Parkway. Then as he tried to cross the road, he was struck by two vehicles and killed.
As I read about this unfortunate man’s story in the news, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the unavoidability of death. He had escaped death only to be found by it again only a few minutes later. Our stories may not be quite so dramatic, but surely most of us have had our close calls—those accidents that are narrowly avoided or a disease that is caught in time to be treated. Yet, though our earthly lives may have been extended, they have not been permanently preserved.
We are reminded in James 4:14 (NKJV), “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” And again in Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV) ,”… it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”.
This is not to be seen as morbid or depressing. On the contrary, death is welcomed by the faithful Christian. This is simply an exhortation to maintain this life in its proper focus. It is not nearly as important as the next life. Let us focus our life on earnest preparations for the hereafter, for heaven, and for the judgment.
View earthly life as a means to an end rather than as an end unto itself. Then we will confidently say along with Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).