When the Bell Tolls   3 comments

If you had the option to know the date of your death, would you want to know?

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The short answer is no, but there’s a longer answer that’s more nuanced. No surprise there to regular readers of this blog.

First, I don’t fear death. As a Christian, I believe death is a gateway to God’s kingdom where I will live forever in the presence of my Savior and some of my family and friends will be there also. No worries about death darken my mind. If I knew I was dying, I might be sad to be leaving some people and things behind, but a moment after I die, I won’t care because my existence will be wonderful. I believe that. Enough on that topic.

When I saw the topic, my mind went immediately to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene. He KNEW the hour of His death and it hurt so bad He sweated drops of blood. That’s actually a thing, by the way. In times of intense stress, some people secret iron, which oxidizes in the air and looks like blood.

Can you imagine knowing that you were going to die the next day and your death would be horribly painful?

I wouldn’t want to know that. I think that’s why in movies where the “hero” knows he’s going to die, you see a lot of frenzied effort in trying to reverse that inevitability. Or else they run around trying to make amends to the people they were estranged from. While that’s nice – to die with some closure in your damaged relationships – I think knowing the date of your death would keep you not focused on the here-and-now.

I could die anytime within the next 40 years. My mother’s family routinely live into their eighties and nineties and a few have broken the century mark. So I could live a long time, yet. Or I could get stomped to death by a moose tomorrow. If I knew I was going to live to be 100, I think I might not live life as urgently as I do now.  Maybe I wouldn’t say “I love you” to the people I care about quite so often. Maybe I’d dawdle in writing books. Maybe I wouldn’t go out onto the deck to watch the northern lights as often because “well, I’ve got 40 years to do these things.” Of course, knowing the date of my own death wouldn’t mean I’d know the date of my loved ones’ deaths. The other day, the UAF Geophysical Institute announced we’re entering a period of solar minimum. Now I’m wishing I’d seen more auroral displays last winter since they will be rare for the next few years. I’ve published eight books in the last four years and I can’t help wonder how many books I might have published if publishing had been different when I was younger.

Do you see what I’m getting at? I’ve missed a lot of opportunities because I thought I had time. As time now catches up with me, I look back and think “Wow, if I’d lived life like a moose would stomp me to death tomorrow, think about the things I would have done.” I can still do them and I think I have a few decades, but if I knew I was going to die in a year or two, I would stop publishing series because I wouldn’t want to leave my audience hanging. Would the world mourn that loss? I doubt it. But I would mourn that creative output.

Meanwhile, if I thought a moose would stomp me to death tomorrow, I might seek to avoid that fate rather than live my life and I don’t want to stop living in order to go on existing.

Not knowing the date of my death gives my life freshness and forces me to do things in the moment, but not put so much intensity into it that I look like one of those freaks in the movies who try to make amends with people they’ve hated in the last 24 hours of their lives. I live today as if tomorrow my life might end and I’ll have to face God with today’s sin to explain, and so I’m always trying to improve my contact with God and my relationships with others. But I also plan for the next four decades because I don’t know what’s coming and those plans give me joy and structure.

So, no, I don’t want to know the hour of my death. I don’t need to hear the bell toll. 

Posted November 19, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , ,

3 responses to “When the Bell Tolls

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  1. I’m happier not knowing the date of my death. I can plan things for the future and not worry. My grandmother went for a walk in the park, and on the way home was killed by a hit and run driver. I suppose had she known the date of her death she could have avoided going for the walk, but if that was the date of her death would she have died anyway by another means? Hmm… interesting …


  2. Moose look amazing from a distance, but those are some scary critters!

    Liked by 1 person

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