We go through the same routine every time something tragic happens. Yesterday New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died in a plane crash and we all stop to give lip service to “what’s important” and “the things that matter”. And within hours or days we are right back screaming at bad drivers and fuming in long lines at the grocery. Most of us do not want to think about the only thing that is certain in our lives. Our mortality. I wrote about that topic in an earlier post. It seemed like a good time to be a good citizen and recycle .
A simple new test is designed to calculate the odds for me still being alive in four years. That’s right. I can tally my score for the twelve predictive categories and decide if that investment in a five year bond is really a good idea. So I took the test and the results are in.
According to this measuring stick it looks like I will accomplish my goal of living long enough to be a problem for my children. The mortality calculator (that sounds dark) was developed by researchers at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The researchers developed the scale after studying 12,000 patients and then applying those findings to 8,000 more to chart the reliability of their GRI (Grim Reaper Index – that is my acronym, not theirs). This is a test where you hope for a very low score. A zero to five score for an over fifty respondent will give you a 96% chance of seeing 2010. I scored a sparkling 2 on my GRI! I was penalized two points just for being male. I cannot figure out how to circumvent that risk. Those who tallied 14 or more points have a 64 percent chance of dying in the next four years. If you want to know your potential fate you can take the test and calculate your GRI score. So what does this mean to me as average Bad Christian guy?
Not much. Whether I have forty years or four years or four months or four days really should not affect how I live as a follower of Christ. I have been knee deep in the mortality of my fellow human beings recently. My dear friend Trisha died in early January. A television associate died in an accident in August. Both were my age or younger. So even if I am in the ninety-sixth percentile there are statistically still four of us in a sampling of one hundred that will be dead by 2010. “Couldn’t be me,” says my bulletproof brain. “Sure it could,” replies the teeny and rarely heard common sense cortex buried deep below the machobellum section of my brain.
So how then should we live? Like Paul and Peter and John and the rest of the early followers of Christ. With an air of expectancy that tomorrow (or the rest of today) is not guaranteed. To live with a sense of priority and passion about what really matters. Do you have someone that you want to tell that you love them? Tell them now. Is there a relationship that needs repairing? Repair it now. Someone that you know you have to forgive? Please forgive them now by faith and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Still angry with a parent or sibling? Deal with it now. Have you slipped away from God for some reason? Come back now.
What if I told you that you have exactly one week to live? Write down what you would do and what you would say in those precious seven days. And then start doing those things now. Because no matter how stunning your score might be on the Grim Reaper Index it is no guarantee of anything past this moment. I know that not every recipient of such communications are receptive or even civil. But at the end of the day we are accountable before a Holy God only for our actions. They are accountable for theirs. Do the right thing and trust the rest to Jesus. Boomers get ready. In the time frame of eternity all of us will be going home very soon.
Part of the great comfort I felt when my Father died two years ago was knowing that everything that I wanted to say to him had been said. I believe that if something happened to me before I get to write another word that my sons would have that same peace. They know they are loved by me and I am loved by them. They know how proud I am of them as men and as followers of Jesus.
I hope you score well in your GRI. I wish you health and blessings. But my fervent prayer is that you will test better in your readiness to peacefully leave this planet. I pray you will have the courage to say what you want to say and need to say. Make peace with those you feel a lack of peace with in your soul. What a wonderful way to prepare to meet your Savior face to face. Paul’s words to the church at Colosse offer a few thoughts on getting ready.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3 NIV
I pray that I can write those words across my heart and begin to live them out. If I can follow those inspired thoughts I will not only make the most of the time I have left but I will also be prepared for the eternity ahead. C.S. Lewis wrote this about where our focus should be to make a real impact for Christ.
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”