Today’s Reminder – We Are Not Promised Tomorrow

Kobe Bryant and familyOn Sunday the world found out that beloved NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash. If that wasn’t tragic enough, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others, including a wife, husband and daughter, were also killed.

It shook so many of us.  It didn’t matter if we were an NBA fan or if we had ever seen Kobe play.  The tragedy was shocking for several reasons.  Here were 9 vibrant people suddenly taken, each leaving behind many loved ones and family members.  Kobe Bryant represented someone who was, for lack of a better term, “on top of the world.”  But, his wealth and fame couldn’t prevent his life from ending at only 41.

NFL player and pro-life advocate Ben Watson summed it up perfectly in a Facebook post:

“There is nothing more common to the human experience than death. It touches everyone and everything on this planet. It is a part of life yet it is a fear evoking, painful mystery that we rarely get accustomed to. For many of us it looms in the distance, quarantined in the dark corners of the mind until suddenly our own mortality grabs us unexpectedly and stares us squarely in the face. Over 150,000 people die daily, largely unnoticed, but when icons expire unexpectedly it shakes our souls. If someone in good health, adored by millions across the globe, who had reached the pinnacle of earthly success, could not extend his days what hope do any of us have in this journey called life?!

The tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others reminds me of my own mortality. And it’s scary. I do not fear what happens after physical life but on days like today I do fear the uncertainty of the process and the circumstances surrounding it. Days like today remind me that life is a vapor. We are here today and gone tomorrow yet sometimes we live as if tomorrow is promised, so engulfed with the worries, desires, and frivolous pursuits of life that we lose sight of the missions, callings and divine purposes of our existence. True age is not calculated by years on the planet. In actuality, we are as old or young as our expiration date. Days like today remind us that unlike many other things in life, no one knows the day or hour of his last breath.

We all have an appointment with death that we can not cancel. It is appointed for man to die once and then the judgement. As final as it seems from this side of the chasm, physical death is not the end but a continuation of life; a transition from the mortal into the eternal. We will all live forever either in the glorious presence of our Creator and King or in eternal separation from Him. As the sand trickles through the hour glass, the most pressing question of life is not quantified by materials acquired, relationships cultivated, or goodness imparted. Our justification before a holy God, our life eternal, can only be acquired through repentance and faith in the shed blood of His Son; a free gift of salvation for all who believe.

Days like today call for raw emotional response and loving embraces, prayer and solemn reflection. They feel surreal until tomorrow’s morning concretizes their reality. May the Lord bring comfort to the friends family and loved ones of the Bryant’s, Altobelli’s and other victims in this time of tremendous grief.

This one hurts us all.”

Facing Death

By Timothy Kelley (All Star Press is thankful and honored to be allowed to re-print this blog posting)

The reality of death is a confrontational foe – or in some cases a friend – that never ceases to knock on the door of our human consciousness. Its looming presence is kept at bay for much of our life until we are given windows into the eternal while attending a funeral service or possibly when receiving an ominous doctor’s report. There is only one weapon we can use when coming face to face with mankind’s greatest enemy—faith.

Paul exhorted the church at Corinth to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) in relation to life in time and space as well as our eternal state. With the loss of a close loved one, sight and feelings are more often than not our dominant means of perception. We know how we are supposed to think, it’s just that our feelings and our thinking are out of sync.

Probably the most referred to chapter in the Bible on the subject of faith is found in Hebrews Chapter 11. The chapter starts like this:
(1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

This chapter speaks much about death. These “heroes of faith” all died without the promise they looked forward to throughout their lives. The promise was Jesus Christ living in the hearts of the believer and His kingdom reign on earth. Faith is needed in death more than any other time in life – not for those who have died, but for us – those left behind. Those of us trying to make sense as we swim in the abyss of grief and loss. Let’s look at faith’s relationship with death.

Faith faces death squarely in the face. A famous quote says, “Where there is life there is hope.” We can say by faith, “Where there is death, there is hope.” The believer sees death for what it is – the passing of one life directly into the next. There is no cessation of life, simply a transformation of life. We understand that when we or our loved one passes, life does not cease; it transforms into a larger, far greater existence. Faith always sees a bigger picture in the death of one of God’s saints.

Faith takes death seriously. Though we are Christians, we are still human. God wired us to love and to grieve. Faith allows us to be humans; it is ok to experience and express grief. It does not reveal a lack of faith; it reveals just the opposite. It reveals one who is comfortable with who God has created them to be, and how he has created them to be. The person of faith embraces the fact that the loss of those close to us will forever alter the landscape of our lives. Yet, though the loss is great and the grief is real, God still has a plan and purpose for our life in the here and now. There is also an understanding that God’s plan on earth for the deceased has be fulfilled and completed also. The man or woman of faith knows that in the big picture of God’s eternal scheme, this loss has a purpose attached to it. Thus death, though not welcome, can be accepted.

“There is only one weapon we can use when coming face to face with mankind’s greatest enemy — faith.” – Timothy Kelley

 

Editor’s Note: Timothy Kelley is Pastor of Grace Connection Church in St. Petersburg, FL.   Pastor Kelley lost his beautiful 20-year-old daughter Hannah Grace Kelley last month in a freak accident that received national news coverage. She passed on Feb. 18, 2012. How does a man of true faith handle the worst of tragedies? Click the YouTube video link below to view the memorial service for Hannah. Scroll to the 18:24 mark to hear Pastor Kelley give his daughter’s eulogy – the hardest thing any father would have to do in their lifetime.