2 lessons from a not near death experience.
If you ran into me two years ago and I told you in swollen detail about a near death experience I had, then please accept my apology. That was a lie or rather it was me exaggerating and stretching a situation until it was taut with drama. Was I terrified? Yes. Did I honestly think my life was over? Yes. Was it a near death experience? No.
But even though I didn’t have a walk from a plane crash experience, I did learn two very important things. Which I will now weave into a tapestry of sarcasm, insight and awesomeness.
For a few months after this experience I asked God constantly, “Am I going to die soon?” The frustrating thing is that he wouldn’t answer me. In fact on some mornings I swear he said, “I’m not going to tell you.” And wrestle as I might, he didn’t. But what I did feel like he dropped on me were a couple of simple questions.
The first was, what would it mean if you died? I told him it would mean that I wouldn’t get to raise my daughters, or write a book or start a ministry or do all the things I always wanted to do. As soon as I put that answer out there, I felt like he laid on my heart, “Well are you doing those things right now?”
The answer was no. I mean I was raising my daughters, but more as a default dad. That is I was there, I loved on them and took care of them, but my life and the way I invested my time didn’t really indicate they were important to me. That’s a horrible thing to say but sometimes true things are horrible. And the book, the ministry? I wasn’t spending a second on either of those things. My fear of death felt like a fireman’s house that stripped away the dross of life revealing only the things that mattered.
The other question God asked was like some sort of atomic elbow of death. This is what I felt like he said: “Why should it take eminent death to make you change the way you invest your time and energy when you’ve already been promised eventual death?”
Ugh, that is a gross question. The concept of eminent vs. eventual is not fun to tangle with, but it’s true. This morning, I woke up a little more dead than when I went to bed last night. One more day was extinguished when I laid my head on the pillow. The question is, did that day bring me closer or further away from being the person I was made to be?
The second lesson I learned is that experiences never sustain. After this whole event I was convinced that now life would be different. I thought that if I ever found myself tempted again I would just remember that moment of near death. I’d decide to carpe diem. I’d make the right choice because I was just happy to be alive. My entire existence would be like one of those ridiculous “Successories” posters where it says “Passion” underneath a picture of some really tough golf shot or lighthouse in the middle of a storm. I would just go for it and turn my frown upside down. A smile would be my umbrella because of the deep, deep wisdom that event had imparted on me.
But I’m a pretty forgetful dude and eventually, the high of that moment dissipated. The rush of being alive faded a little under the fluorescent lights of reality. The luster of not wasting my second chance dulled. And before long I was back to being just me.
Neither of those lessons was particularly fun to learn, but they ultimately challenged my definition of what it meant to be alive. I realized that most of my days were spent having a series of “near life experiences.” Have you ever had one of those? A moment during which you wonder if there’s something more? A time during which you question if you’re really doing what you were made for, what every fiber of you was created to be?
Ever felt like you’re nearly alive?
I have and this should really be the part of the post where I say something pithy and wrap the whole thing up. But I can’t, because it’s really not an open and shut idea. It’s an open and change idea. It’s an open and explore the way you’re going to live today and tomorrow and the day after that idea.
I don’t know what you think about God, but regardless, you know at some level you’re capable of so much more. My hope is that you’ll realize eventual is coming and you don’t need eminent to change.
My hope is that today you’ll be more than just nearly alive.