That was the headline that grabbed my attention on the BBC News website this morning as I made my brief scan of world events (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/magazine-39950924/dying-taught-me-how-to-live). It's not an article about the conflict in Syria or foreign policy in the light of the election. Yet it is the most universally relevant news story that you'll hear today. Because it's about death.
The article is actually a trailer for a BBC 2 programme "A Time to Live". In it 12 people who have received a terminal diagnosis explain how they are getting on with life. I watched the trailer and then read the blurb below it.
There are a number of things that people said that where lessons that I could learn. Lessons that are actually from the Bible. One woman when asked if she worried about how her daughters would cope without her simply said, "No. What's the point of that? I can't control it."
Jesus himself said, "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:27)
I guess that the difference for the Christian is that we know that we can trust our children to a heavenly Father loves them far more than even we do.
A man talked about how he was planning his life more carefully so that we could enjoy his relationships more. Another woman talked about in rejoicing in each day as it came. Again Jesus said: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)
But amongst the heart warming sentiments was this description of one participant in the programme: "And when Annabel discovered she may only have a couple of years, she left her husband and family. She says that a terminal diagnosis gave her the confidence to grasp the life she wanted."
So I searched her out on the full programme. It was a sad indictment on what the world thinks happiness is. Rather than seeking to live out her last days with her husband and children, she has sought to be "a more fun, a naughtier, older woman". It wasn't that she left her husband for another man. But rather she left him because life as a house wife was dull.
Again the Bible isn't surprised by her attitude. The apostle Paul writes to Christians:
'If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”' (1 Corinthians 15:32)
It comes in a chapter were Paul is teaching about the certainty of resurrection life for all who trust in Christ. That because Jesus was raised from the dead, Christians know that one day we will be raised to enjoy life forever in a world where there will be no diagnoses at all. Not even for the common cold! It is this certain hope that informs that way that Christians live life. Especially when they know that death is coming soon.
I met a friend for lunch in the City yesterday. I had to wear a suit. I felt very grown up. Slightly less so when I knocked over the drink of a captain of industry in the bar!
Over lunch we were chatting about how Richard was having opportunities to share the gospel with men who in the world's terms have it all. But in God's terms have nothing. Certainly not an answer to death. A number had been persuaded to consider the claims of Jesus because of the way that Christian friends or colleagues who had had a terminal diagnosis were facing their own deaths.
I pray that I might live each day more as though it were my last. Treasuring relationships. Proclaiming Christ. Rejoicing in the certain hope that I will be with him. Soon. And not worrying about the future.