It was a bookkeeping error, and it led to a good laugh, but it was also eye-opening.
A man strode into my office recently with a big grin on his face. He handed me a piece of paper and told me I had to see it. It was a form letter from a life insurance company, but it might as well have been right out of a stand-up comedian’s stage show.
After the official mumbo-jumbo at the top of the letter, the first line stated, “We express our condolences for the loss of [person’s name].”
What made it funny? The man who handed me the letter was the one named on the piece of paper!
That’s right, the insurance company addressed a letter to a man expressing their regret that the same man was now dead!
Stories like this happen at times. I suppose one of the more famous in world history is that of Alfred Nobel, after whom the Nobel Peace Prize is named. Recently, the Academy Awards put the name and face of a film worker in their “in memoriam” piece, and she later tweeted that she was, in fact, alive and doing quite well.
We laugh at instances like these but they also serve as fair warning that Hebrews 9:27 continues to be true. The writer stated that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
As the old hymn states, “Earthly life is only one short day when compared with eternity.” At times, it seems that life is crawling along, but James was right when he said that our life is as a mist (or vapor), in that it “appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
Still, it is rare to come face-to-face with that reality like receiving a life insurance letter about your own death.
But, may I ask, what would the realization that we are mortal and that our life is brief do to us if we would keep it ever before us?
While some might want to go “skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing” or ride a bull named Fu-Manchu (sorry, couldn’t resist), that is not what Scripture would have us focus on. Those things are not wrong, but may I suggest even more important things?
Tell someone about Jesus.
Invest time in your family.
Run away from sin and toward the cross.
Bask in the majesty of God’s grace.
Those sound like ways to live when we realize that we are mortal and time is fleeting. In fact, that sounds like a good way to live each day.
Because one day, that letter will come with your name on it and it won’t be an error.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn