“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.
You see, my brother knew how to live.
He still does.