Reflections on Kobe and the Shortness of Life

On Sunday, January 26th a friend texted me and asked if I had seen the news that Kobe Bryant had died. My initial reaction was that it was hoax like I’d seen so many times. However, when I got online there was a different tone to the language people were using. It was somber, eulogistic and full of utter disbelief.

After the initial chaos and misreporting, the sediment finally settled to reveal that Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter Gianna and seven others had passed away in a tragic helicopter accident.

I have never been one to be overly impacted by the loss of a celebrity, but this one left me deeply unsettled. Why did this loss feel different from any others?

Partly because Kobe was an icon, a living legend in the world of sports and a bigger than life figure. I’m from the generation that yelled “KOBE!” every time we shot a piece of paper into the trash. Kobe Bryant was so etched into our subconscious and a truly transcendent figure, that to lose him felt like losing a piece of the collective us.

Second, I just can’t imagine losing a spouse and a daughter in the same moment. An experience like that would undoubtedly unravel me and bring me to my knees. I’m praying that God would comfort the Bryant family and all the other families who suffered unspeakable loss.

This tragedy was a stark reminder that death shows no partiality, will come for all of us one day and that life is incredible fragile.

The Shortness of Life

“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!

In Psalm 39, David is asking God to show him the brevity of his life. He wants to gain an awareness of that truth, so that he can live with the right perspective and urgency.

Losing my mom and Chels’ dad to cancer, then watching Davy girl fight for her life revealed to me the brevity of our role in this unfolding drama. We can be living our normal lives in one moment and then be gone in the next instant.

Life is short and ever so fragile.

The Importance of Living

This is why it’s so important to live while we still have our shot. Yet, what does this mean practically for us? I’ve heard it said, that when most people come to the end of their days, they want to know the answer to these two questions:

  • Am I right with my Maker?
  • Am I right with my people?

So first, we take inventory of our spiritual and relational health. Am I right with my Maker? Have we received the good news of the gospel that Jesus has paid for our sins and now desires us to follow him with our whole life? Second, am I right with my people? Have I apologized, forgiven, asked for forgiveness, let go of the bitterness, or made that phone call and said what I need to say to those that I love?

Then, you gather up the courage to go truly live. It looks different for all of us, but it might look like:

  • taking the risk
  • expressing your feelings
  • calling the guy/girl
  • planning the trip you’ve always wanted to take
  • getting help for the addiction
  • slowing down
  • putting work in it’s proper place (not at the center of your life)
  • spending more time with your kids
  • overcoming a fear
  • telling your friends you’re grateful for them
  • finally doing the thing that you were going to do “one day”

Whatever it looks like for you, just go do it! Stop waiting, stop worrying and start living. Life is short and you never know when your time is up.

As for the lives that were lost, we grieve and pray for their families who have to figure out a way to live in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. As for us, we take inventory of our life, we linger just a little bit longer while tucking our kids in at night, then we put our hands to the plow and live.

Let us join in the prayer of David, asking for God to show us the measure of our days, to live in light of that truth and then do our best to make our few handbreadths count.

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