Like many others, I was saddened to hear of Nabeel Qureshi’s death over the weekend. In only 34 years, the Muslim-turned-Christian apologist (who worked closely with Ravi Zacharias) left a legacy greater than his young age would suggest.
I know it’s a cliche, but it’s also true: life is short.
Often far too short. One of my in-laws just lost her mother to Parkinson’s; the mom was only in her 50s. A pastor I know from back in Michigan just saw his teenage son pass away. We’ve already had several deaths at Christ Covenant—most, but not all, in old age.
When you’re a kid it feels like you’ll live forever. When you get older you realize that no one (in this life) wins the race against death. Sooner or later the medicine will give up, the body will give in, and the heart will give out.
But that doesn’t mean we are doomed to a life of morbid acquiescence. The Christian approach to death is realistic, hopeful, and clarifying.
Realistic because we know that death is our enemy, the last enemy Scripture tells us (1 Cor. 15:26). We do not trivialize the grave. Even the Son of God wept (John 11:35).
At the same time, we do not mourn as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death and set us free from lifelong slavery (Heb. 2:15). Despite the protestations of scholars tsk-tsking our pie-in-the-sky theology, let us never be afraid to glory in the good news that believers go to heaven when they die (2 Cor. 5:1-10).
The Christian view of death is also clarifying. It is in learning to number our days that we gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). If you knew your life would be short—whether eight decades short or eight more months—what would you do with your time that you aren’t doing right now? What little annoyances would you let go of? What projects would you stop pursuing? Conversely, what priorities would you start to make real priorities? What people would you try to spend more time with?
The Bible doesn’t expect us to live as if every second were our last. If we did, we’d likely skip work, stay in our pajamas all day, hunker down with friends and family, and eat as much ice cream as possible. Numbering our days is not an excuse for irresponsibility. It’s an invitation to think more seriously about eternity. It’s a call to work for the things that will keep working when we can’t.
Like pouring into people. Or proclaiming the truth of Scripture. Or putting our time into the local church.
Your sense of calling won’t be the same as mine, but when I hear of someone like Nabeel passing away, I think, I want to preach my guts out, and I want to be more patient with my kids. In other words, it makes me want to do all I can to get the words of life into my kids and into my congregation.
And it makes me want to be a little less concerned about everything else.
Life is short. Enjoy the gift. Pay it forward and make known the Giver.