“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. ….almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important….. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Stanford University commencement address
There are many kinds of tyrannies. Typically, I suppose, most of us imagine political and economic tyrannies. But the tyrannies of fear and expectation – the expectation of others, particularly – are for many of us particularly powerful forces.
I don’t know whether I would have liked Steve Jobs had I ever had occasion to meet him. His relational style seems to have been off-putting in significant ways. Of course his inventions have profoundly impacted the ways I work and the ways I connect with others. Whether or not I might have liked him, he has been influential in my life. Not a day goes by but that Steve Jobs has made a difference in my life.
It seems that Jobs used the reality of his approaching death as a device by which to winnow the important from the trivial. That’s a principle around which I can get my head. Only God knows what becomes of human beings when they die, but this much is clear – the dead do not interact with the living. Any passions you might wish to share with others – any influence you might wish to wield – any wisdom you might want shared with posterity – all these must be attended to now, because “the dead do not speak.”
Though the calendar tells us that January is the beginning of the year, for many of us the year buy accutane in hong kong really starts at Labor Day. At the beginning of this new (program) year, I’d encourage you to reflect on “the big choices in life.” What really matters to you? What is God calling you to be and do? To what extent do external expectations, pride, and fear of embarrassment or failure keep you from that to which your heart aspires?
Jobs had it right – he was facing death – but I am also facing death, as are you. Earlier this year the odometer of my life showed a “6” in the ten’s column for the first time. I’ve no idea how that happened, but it does serve to remind me that I won’t live forever, and if I let fear and expectation keep me from that to which my heart calls (which often is, in fact, the call of God), I may come to the end of life with regrets and remorse and a sense of loss.
Jesus famously said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” One truth we must embrace is the inevitability of our own mortality. Facing the fact of this – of my own death, the death of those I love, the death of the church I love – none of these need be paralyzing. Instead of being paralyzed by the prospect of death, it is possible to be liberated – to be liberated to encounter and embrace that which truly matters.
What truly matters in your life? What critical thing begs for your attention? What things of less importance distract you from that focus?
My prayer for you is the death defying focus that (paradoxically) comes from a clear and hard-headed assessment of your own mortality.
With great hope!
Rich Pleva, Iowa Conference Minister