I'm getting around to blogging some topics that have been in my to-do list for sometime. I left a note back in September of 2017 to blog about "If I Died Tomorrow," but I didn't leave any description of what I had in mind back then. But, nonetheless, here are my thoughts.
I've always been intrigued with religions and worldviews that held onto life very loosely. For example, the Stoics of Greece tried not to get too emotional about anything, and so they would routinely subject themselves to the mental discipline of imagining their world if their wife died, if their kids died, etc.... Then, when the time came where their family members did die, they had already experienced it mentally, and it wasn't so bad, at least that's what they say.
One thing that always fascinated me about the Bible is the radically different way that people in the Old Testament seemed to view their own mortality. It's probably the most stark in books of poetry like Job, Psalms, and Ecclesiastes. Consider Job 7:1, Job 14:14, Psalm 39:4-5, Psalm 90:10, Ecclesiastes 4:1-3.
It seems like these great poets, Job, David, and Solomon, had what God considered a "healthy" view of their mortality. Paul reaffirms some of these feelings in the New Testament (e.g., Philippians 1:21, 2 Timothy 4:6-8). Scripture contrasts their view with those who felt that death was something impossible for them.
- Genesis 3:4
- Luke 12:16-20
- James 4:13-15
- Isaiah 56:12
It was difficult enough for Adam to know that his lifetime had been cut to 930 years (Genesis 5:5). It was hard for Abraham to know that after the flood, the average lifespan would be about 120 years (Genesis 6:3, Genesis 25:7, Genesis 23:1, Genesis 47:28). And by the time we reached David, the lifespan had reached about 70 years (Psalm 90:10).
God created man to live forever, and he put a desire to live forever in each of our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). However, we are faced with a gaurantee that unless Christ returns within our lifetime, we are going to die (Ecclesiastes 9:1-3). So how ought we to live?
Somebody once told my brother that he should live every day as if it were his last. I don't remember if he actually did any of this, or if he only said that he was going to do this. But he said that he started calling his parents every day telling them how much he loved them and how much he was going to miss them. He called up his church and made plans for his funeral. He canceled all of his appointments for the next few days and made plans to have off from work, etc.
It's clearly impractical to plan as if today were the last day of your life. However, there is a lot to be said for setting up a game plan so that your family will be cared for in the certain event of your eventual death.
Make a Will
God says that a righteous man leaves an inheritance for his children and grandkids (Proverbs 13:22). He also says that foolish and wicked people make no plan, and their wealth goes to somebody they may not have intended (Psalms 39:6, Psalms 49:10).
If you die without a will, the state gets to choose where all of your assets go. If you promised that your dog would be taken care of someone, etc., that won't matter because the state is going to go through whatever protocols it has. Most people leave a mess behind when they die, and part of that is because they think that death is something so far away, it will never come (2 Kings 20:1).
Making a will is a way to say "I love you" to your friends and family. For example:
- Having a written will before you die, and letting people know what is in your will, let's people know that when you die, they can just grieve, because all of the tough decisions about splitting up your estate have already been made and are in writing
- It settles arguments fast. No more "she told me that this would happen." No more going back-and-forth with the state about what goes where. It saves people a lot of time and energy
Even if you're single, you still have assets that you need to determine where they go. Having a will helps to put all those assets in one place, and to name where they go (even if it's just a car and a small checking account).
You can see Paul making plans for his death in 2 Timothy 4:13. This is the last chapter that Paul wrote before he was beheaded, and he is asking Timothy to bring some of his assets to him in Rome. The parchments are especially interesting, because it is upon parchment that a person in the first century would write letters or documents. Paul may have wanted to revise some of his writings before passing away, whether they were letters, or instructions to others to execute after his death, much like a will (see also 2 Timothy 4:14-15).
By the way, August is National Make-a-will Month.
Get Term Life Insurance
1 Timothy 5 generally discusses plans for caring for widows. While Paul generally advocates for taking care of widows, Paul recommends that the best option is for a familiy to make provisions for widows to be taken care of within the family (see 1 Timothy 5:8).
Term life insurance is a way that a family can replace the lost income of a relative in the event that they pass away. The general strategy is to get a policy for about 10x of the amount of income that you need to replace (e.g., if you need to replace a $50k/year income, get a policy for $500k, which should be around $25/month). In the unlikely event that you pass away, take the $500k insurance payout, and invest it in a growth-stock mutual fund, and live off the \~$50k/year interest of the investment.
By the way, May 2 is National Life-Insurance Day.
Get to Know God
The most important thing to do in the face of our mortality is to get to know God. The reason why Paul, Job, Solomon, and David could look at their mortality with such peace is because they woke up every day and spent time with their Savior. They meditated on His word, and sought His presence. When they finished their devotional time with God and started their daily work, they knew that God was with them. They were not satisfied starting their work until they were persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing could separate them from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). When they left their house each day, they knew that whatever happened to them that day, that they would see God one day in Heaven, and be able to live life to its fullest. This should be our first work each day as well.
By the way, today is Get-To-Know-God Day (2 Corinthians 6:2, Hebrews 3:7-8, 13)