Jump Start # 2520
1 Samuel 20:3 “Yet David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be grieved.’ But truly as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death.”
One of our readers asked me if I would write some reflections about the death of Kobe Bryant, the NBA legend who, along with his 13 year old daughter and several others were killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash. One headline read, “Kobe Bryant’s death stuns the world.” Those of us whose lives are anchored in the word of God are not stunned. Surprised, yes, stunned, no. Normally, healthy forty-one year old people do not die. Worse, thirteen year-olds are not supposed to die. Had Kobe been eighty-five years old and died from cancer, the world would have been sad, but not stunned.
James reminds us that life is just a vapor. And, our verse today, taken from those dark days when King Saul was chasing down David, states that there is “hardly a step between me and death.” That wasn’t just true of David, but it’s true of all of us. It’s one thing to say death is close. It’s one thing to say death is in sight. It’s one thing to say there’s about a football field between me and death. But the passage says, “hardly a step.” That is so close, one could reach out and grab the other. That is so close you could sense and feel the presence behind. That close is really too close.
Kobe was a superstar on the basketball court. He set records. He was a legend. Off the court he encouraged many lives and was living the dream of being famous, rich and influential. But death came. It came without notice. It came suddenly. It came without those with him knowing that this was their last day. And, what we are realizing is that with all his status, money and superstar records on the court, he could not keep death from reaching him. None of us can. The tragic death of Kobe has been told over and over in nearly every generation. Famous musicians dying in plane crashes right after a concert. Presidents being assassinated. Actors dying while making a film. We sometimes think some are beyond death, but none of us are. None of us can keep it away.
Death comes at all times and all places. It does wait for you to say “goodbye.” It doesn’t wait for you to reach your destination. It comes when you are at home and when you are away from home. And, now, what we see and what we realize is that status, money, position, fame doesn’t do much for a person on the other side of this life. That day that Kobe died, thousands of other people died all over the world. There wasn’t a newsbreak announcing these other deaths. Most went unnoticed. Yet, once we cross through that doorway of death into the next room, we are all equal. It’s not black or white. It’s not male or female. It’s not American or Asian. It’s not rich or poor. It’s not famous or common. All of those things matter on this side of the door. But on the other side, only one thing matters, Jesus. That’s it!
So, there are some things we ought to take away from this tragic event of Kobe Bryant’s death:
First, You and I never know when our last moment will be. We don’t get to choose when or how we go through that door of death. We may be feeling great. We may be having a great day, but tragedies can push us through that door. We do not all get to live to be ninety years old and then die in our sleep. For some, it’s sudden accidents. For some, it’s the victim of violence and crime. For some, it’s war. For some, it’s the fault of someone else. For some, it’s a disease. Kobe was 41 years old. His daughter was 13. We don’t get to choose when or where it’s our time to go through the door of death.
Second, the success of life can only be measured on the other side of the door. The rich man in Luke 16 had it all. Big house. Fine clothes. Fancy food. Gated property. He was the envy of many. But once he died, and we pull the curtain back and see from the other side of the door of death, we get a different picture. He’s hurting. He’s miserable. He’s begging. He’s sorry. It is not the picture we got from the front side of the door. There are millions and millions of folks who played basketball but never got to the level of Kobe. Some never made it to the high school team. Those that did, only a handful made it to any college level. After that, just a tiny few made it to the professional level. And, among those, we can just about name the superstars. The rest just weren’t good enough. They found other things to do in life. The same could be said of singers. Only a small number ever make it to the big times. The same could be said of authors. The same could be said of artists. The same could be said of actors. Most of us are just plain ordinary folks. Most of us walk down a street and no one pays any attention to us. We walk in a restaurant and we have to wait our turn like everyone else. No one runs up to us seeking our autographs. Nope. That doesn’t happen. We may dream of that, wish that, but it’s just not going to happen. So, we can settle into a boring, unimpressive life that seems to have no impact and is going no where, because we are not rich and famous, or we can take a look on the other side of the door and see what real success is.
Poor Lazarus in Luke 16 was more successful, better off and happier than the rich man, once he crossed through the door of death. Their lives seemed to flip flop. And, what really is important is that life on the back side of the door is forever. It never ends. Therefore, success is not in the records broken, the size of the house, the number of cars owned, but how one walks with the Lord. Poor, pitiful Lazarus, who seemed to be alone and died alone and had no one to care for him, was the best off once he crossed through the door of death. Riches and fame doesn’t help us on the other side. All that matters is faith and grace.
Third, what the world remembers and what the world values is often not what God does. Kobe will be remembered for his accomplishments in the game of basketball. Only a few could do what he did. Someday you and I will be remembered for what we have done. Jesus said that the one who gives a cup of cold water to a disciple will not lose his reward. Heaven noticed. Heaven remembered. Football, basketball, baseball—amazing athletes and unbelievable records have been set in all of these sports. Yet, in the end, these are games, only games. Life is not a game. Life is to be viewed seriously and soberly. You get one life. You get one chance to live it. We can waste our lives with things that do not matter, or we can fill our hearts and busy our hands in the things of God. We can make a fortune here and then leave it all here, or we can store up treasures in Heaven by living righteously and godly. Each day is an opportunity and a chance to waste it or use it wisely.
Finally, what if this were your last day? What if you didn’t get to speak another word to your family? What if God called you now…What have you done? Are you a spiritual success? Have you been walking with the Lord? How will your family remember you? Stop kicking the can down the road of what you ought to be doing. Some day, you will be out of days. You hop in your car and off you go. Kobe got in his helicopter and off they flew. They never came home. What if you didn’t? Would it matter what’s in your garage? Would it matter how large your TV screen is? Would it matter what movie you saw last week?
Someday will be your last day…you just don’t know when. Live as if you have one foot already in Heaven. Live as if you are ready to go. Live as if this day could be your last.