Six months ago, my brother Josh wrote a blog post titled To Die Well. He had no idea that he would meet death less than a month later.
In his post, Josh describes what he thinks would be dying well. Allow me to share some of what he wrote:
Will I die in an explosion saving a woman and her child from a car engulfed in flames? Will I throw myself in front of a truck to save a child playing in the street? Will I die protecting my family from an intruder in my home? Will I take a bullet to the head while standing between a sick thug and the woman he intended to rape? Will I give away the last parachute or life ring? The last piece of bread? The last ounce of water? Will I freeze to death having given away my last piece of warm clothing?
Will I sing songs of praise as I am burned alive for refusing to deny the One who endured far worse for me…?
In the next paragraph, Josh goes on to say that he wants to die a martyr. To “die for the overwhelming love of Christ and the honor of bearing His Name and image”. What an amazing death indeed.
But Josh was denied this desire. Instead, he slipped on a mossy rock and drowned in the
Rogue River. His death wasn’t anything
honorable, anything noteworthy. It was an accident – a misplaced step and a
churning river. He wasn’t performing heroics; he didn’t die to save a life. He
didn’t die defending his Maker.
He fell into a river.
So why has Josh’s death made such an impact? Why have so many people been changed through the death of this young man?
Because he lived well.
Now remember, I lived with this guy for nearly fifteen years, and believe me, he had his share of faults. But he still strove toward godliness. He struggled to overcome, and now he has. He stands faultless before the throne…just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes.
If Josh knew that he was going to drown in the
Rogue River that day, honestly,
he probably would have been irritated. What an underwhelming death (to use one
of his favorite words). But if he had known how many hundreds of lives would be
influenced and change through him, I think he would have been more than glad to
die that death.
What I’m getting at, is it’s not about how we die. Dying well means so much more than how we spend the last few moments of our life. To die well, we must live well.
But what does it mean to live well? To live well, we must die to ourselves and our desires. We need to surrender everything to God and trust in Him wholly. Don’t hold anything back. God wants all or nothing.
We’ve got to get our priorities straight. We need to stop chasing after the things of this world, and re-center our focus on Christ. In the end, nothing in this life matters. Once we begin to understand the greatness and reality of the life to come, we’ll also start to see the transience of this life. We don’t know how much time we have. We could live to a ripe old age, or we could die next week. We don’t know. Don’t risk not giving everything to Christ; it’s not worth it.
Living well is living for Christ. If we understand and apply this truth, then God will be pleased. And it can be said of us that we died well.
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”