How-a-close-encounter-with-death-shaped-my-perspective-on-life

How (a close encounter with) death shaped my perspective on life

Written By Lydia Tan, Singapore

Have you ever wondered when you might take your last breath?

Mine almost came a few weeks ago. While standing on the pavement next to the road, I was almost hit by a car when the reckless driver nearly mounted the curb, missing me by inches.

The close shave with death left me in a state of shock—and at the same time, also with a deep sense of joy to be alive and gratitude to God for His protection. For the rest of that night, I stayed awake, contemplating life and reflecting on what truly mattered to me. It’s funny how we start addressing life’s deeper issues and stop taking it for granted only when death is near.

Death.

What is it about death that unnerves us? Its finality? Its inevitability? Its unpredictability? Death is a rude interruption, a hindrance to one’s fulfillment of dreams, hopes, and ambitions—basically, an unwelcome guest.

For many, death is a taboo subject that is seldom talked or thought about, as though merely mentioning the word might invite its arrival. But escapism is not the answer; death is inevitable.

I was reminded again about the reality of death in a recent conversation with my mom, when she told me about what happened to my great-aunt. When I once visited her (she lives abroad), I would notice how my great-uncle would take such great care of my great-aunt and try to meet her every need. “How blessed she is,” I used to think, “to have such a loving husband who is so incredibly gentle and sweet!” However, tragedy struck a week before their son’s wedding—my great-aunt’s husband passed away from a sudden heart attack.

Can you imagine having to plan a wedding and a funeral at the same time? I cannot comprehend the grief and emotional turmoil that my great-aunt and her family had to go through. Yet, the reality is that every single day, people all over the world are going through this.

The tragedy got me thinking: When death comes near, whom can we turn to? How do we find hope in the midst of our fear and grief? The Bible gives us the answer: turn to God, our help and only source of salvation (Psalms 42:5). In the midst of life’s uncertainties and treacherous storms, God is our only sure Anchor, our solid Rock in whom we can find refuge (Psalms 18:2).

But how does that affect the way we live? As Christians, how should we view life through the lens of eternity? Again, the Bible offers some answers. On one hand, it says that life is but a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). On the other hand, it also reminds us that despite its transience, our lives have immense worth because of the Creator who gave us worth. In Matthew 16:26, Jesus tells us that our souls are worth so much more than the world itself.

Knowing the true value of our lives, then, let us cherish life and live in accordance with what our Creator intended—“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). That means making full use of the time that God has given us and making it count for Him.

Thought of writing a letter to encourage a friend? Start now. Thought of meeting up with a friend to catch up over tea? Make the appointment. Want to let your loved ones know how much you appreciate and love them? Don’t delay: tell them now. Been putting off something that God has placed on your heart? Start pursuing it and ask God to keep your heart restless till it’s done. You’ll never know whether you will get a chance to do it again.

For me, being able to walk away unscathed from the near-accident on the pavement was a striking reminder that my work on earth is not yet done. In a few months, I will be involved in the work of missions overseas, and I am now deeply assured that nothing will happen to me unless God allows it. (Romans 14:8)

Let us live with an eternal perspective in mind, making every moment count for eternity. Let’s learn to thank God daily for His amazing grace that sustains us (often without us being aware of it) and to live our lives in a manner that is worthy of the gospel—one that brings glory to God, who is worthy of it all.

As Moses prayed, let us ask God to “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12).

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