For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The season of Lent is sometimes spoken of as "spring cleaning for the soul." It is a time to recommit to our lives of faith, let go of that which makes us less than what God intended of us, and take on those things that make us more - more kind, more loving, more faithful. You could say Lent raises the age-old question, "How then shall we live?"
Lent also confronts us with the other side of the equation. On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded, "From dust you came and to dust you shall return." The question, "How then shall we die?" however, is not one we much care to consider. It typically isn't until we are confronted with the specter of death's door that this question comes into focus.
We see it happen again and again. Someone gets the news from the doctor, "There's nothing more we can do," and suddenly mending broken relationships and ticking off those items on the bucket list becomes paramount. If we are lucky, we have time to do the lion's share of this work. In my experience, few are so fortunate.
I wonder if you are reading this and somewhere in your mind you are thinking, "Is Wayne dying?" The answer is yes. I am afflicted with that dreaded disease called "being mortal." I have been dying since the day I was born. And so have you. "From dust you came and to dust you shall return."
Instead of waiting until it may be too late to address the question, "How then shall we die?" perhaps we should see that it is really the same question as, "How then shall we live?" Perhaps living and dying are two sides of the same coin.
Thinking about death does not have to be morbid or depressing. It can be liberating, freeing us right now to understand that those things that seem so important as we try to "live well," be they storing up material goods or holding on to old grudges, are not so important after all. It can free us right now to understand that "dying well" is not something that should wait. Now is the time to focus on those things that truly matter.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. May this Lent be a season of renewal and a time to live each day well.