True or False: You Only Live Once

“You only live once,” she quipped.  

Laughter followed that flippant remark. I turned away from the screen. 

I’ve used those same words to justify indulgences from purchases, to a risk, and maybe most often, to eating that last piece of chocolate.  

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

This week, as I hear her comment, my stomach turns a bit sour, my eyes fill and like the wave of an ocean overflow again. I click the off button on the TV remote. 

My oldest brother James, returned to the ground last week. The phrase about living only once is suddenly painful and raw. In just ten months two of my three brothers are gone. Influential in my walk with Jesus, I feel a gaping hole from their leaving. 

It’s a frivolous saying, “you only live once,” but never does it seem more ridiculous than at a gravesite of someone loved. And of someone who loved Jesus. 

Life and death are like the flip of a two-edged coin. Truth and fallacy exist on both sides of “you only live once.”

It’s true. This breath I take will someday end.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…” Hebrews 9:27 KJV

It’s false. There is more than this life. I will live again. 

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, 

not built by human hands.” 2 Cor. 5:1 NIV

It’s true. Every moment counts. Every breath has purpose. We should make the most of this God-given life. The value of our once upon a time in history, this beating heart and intake of air is inestimable.  

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” Psalm 39:4 ESV

It’s false. This is a blink on the map of eternity. My flesh clothes a soul and within my broken down tent mortality will give way to immortality.  

“For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:53 ESV 

But the truth and fallacy of “you only live once,” includes yet another truth. This is one which marked my brother’s life and purpose. He wanted others to know that you can be spiritually dead when you are physically alive. 

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV

In those superficial words, “You only live once,” I hear an unspoken, “But God.” 

My brother  lived this life with the intent of letting as many people as possible know there are two sides of their life’s coin. We are dead in our sins without Christ. He came that we might truly have life. And he would ask you unashamedly as you read this, on which side of the coin are you?

A line in his obituary states, he “read the entire Bible yearly from cover to cover for over 50 years.” 

Childhood memories, like sepia colored prints fill my mind in these days of missing. I see and hear his infectious laugh which always made me laugh, even when I was determined not to. I remember his hand grabbing mine to cross the street. He annoyed me with his teasing. He loved me in his scolding. I can still picture his dust encrusted farmer clothes which changed into clean suit and tie preacher attire. These things I will hold in my heart.

But I will think first of His love for God’s Word when I remember him. It was in that private living room chair lacking an audience or stage, but with a Bible on his lap where he revealed his true character.  

He read the entire Bible yearly from cover to cover for over 50 years. 

50 years. 

You see, my brother knew how to live.  

He still does.


32 Replies

  1. Rosi Pahl Reply

    So powerful. Amazingly reassuring. Thank you with all my heart. May the Father continue to quiet your heart.

    • Sarah Schwerin Reply

      What a comforting post. My mom passed away last year. While I miss her, I’m thankful she knew how to live and taught me. How fortunate we are to have such wonderful examples. What a glorious day when we see them again but especially our Lord.

  2. Mary Neir Reply

    So special Sylvia and we are sorry for your loss. May God comfort and bless you today.

  3. Katherine Pasour Reply

    I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m happy for your good memories. What a wonderful big brother you were blessed with! His legacy continues.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Katherine. I am happy for the memories, and yes, blessed to have had him in my life.

  4. Lois S. Reply

    In this fast-paced life, we can still create space for silence, for grief, for prayer, for reading the word of Him who said, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Rev. 1:18. I am thankful for everything your brother was to you and to so many, and the way he imaged Christ. May your grief draw you closer to Christ, who has surely borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Praying for you in your time of loss.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I love that reminder that Christ bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. Thank you Lois.

  5. Jeannie Waters Reply

    Sylvia, I hear your heartbreak in the post, along with your hope of an eternal home where your brother waits for you. May we be as diligent in Bible study as he was. What a legacy.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Jeannie. It has been a rough season, but I am so very grateful for the assurance of what awaits.

  6. Jeannie Waters Reply

    Sylvia, I hear your heartbreak and assurance of an eternal home where your brother awaits you. May we be as diligent to read the Word as he was. What a legacy.

  7. Mike Reply

    What a blessing to know your brother knew how to live in Jesus and he is now alive in the presence of his Lord. Many blessings and prayers as He surrounds you with his peace.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Mike. It is such a comfort to know where he is and that he is more alive than ever with Jesus.

  8. Barb Fox Reply

    What a sweet and moving tribute to a life well-lived…and the truth that he is living even more fully today. You only live once…true & false…love it.

  9. Shannon Bradley Reply

    Yes, what a sweet and moving tribute to a life well-lived. Thank you for sharing about your inspiring brother, even in your grief. Knowing people like you and hearing about people like your brother make me want even more to be in our Lord’s presence. May He comfort you and give you peace.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks so much Shannon. It is always such a joy to hear from you. I appreciate your prayers. Jesus has been a dear dear friend through this.

  10. Sarah Schwerin Reply

    Thank you for your beautiful post. It was a great reminder for me as my mom passed away last year. Even though I miss her, I’m so thankful that she too know how to live and taught me. How fortunate we are to have those examples. Many blessing to you.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Sarah. I’m so sorry for your loss, but grateful for her legacy! So thankful for the blessings of those who went before us!

  11. Anonymous Reply

    Every moment counts and every breath has purpose! I love this. Missional living matters because true life is at stake.
    Thank you for your post Sylvia!
    The best is yet to come 🙂

  12. Marina C Reply

    Every moment counts and every breath has purpose! I love this. Missional living matters because true life is at stake.
    Thank you for your post Sylvia!
    The best is yet to come 🙂

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      True life is at stake. Thanks so much for reading, and I love love love hearing from you!

  13. Nancy E. Head Reply

    What a powerful message, Sylvia. I love the structure and complexity of this message that holds the simplicity of the Gospel. Your images add the reality of loss and the joy of connections. God bless, Sylvia. Thanks!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Nancy! I appreciate your kind words. I do want the message of the Gospel to override all other messages. He is worthy!

  14. Barb Duerkop Reply

    Aw-so sorry, Sylvia. How old was he and what happened to him? I hate to think of my siblings passing away. Will be tough. Sounds like a great man. What was his name–would like to see his obit. Love, Barb

  15. Joanne Viola Reply

    I am so grateful to have come upon this post. What a powerful testimony for it to be said that your brother read the Bible from cover to cover for 50 years! May the Lord continue to bring you His comfort and fill you with these beautiful memories of your brothers!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Joanne, I’m thankful you found me! I do appreciate your comments. You are so right, how we live matters. This is the powerful testimony that lives on. Thanks!

  16. Joanne Viola Reply

    PS – As I continued thinking on this post, I thought … It’s true that here in this world we only live once, but it matters how we live. May we live to honor our God in all we do. Again, thank you for sharing this post!

  17. Barbara Latta Reply

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Sylvia. Your memories of your brother are a sermon to those who think this life is all there is. May his legacy live on by leading others to Christ.