The Single Best Invention of Life

Much has been said and written about the passing of Steve Jobs, and, as a longtime Apple customer, even I posted a few thoughts on my personal blog. He was an interesting individual. I’m sure many readers of this blog would be quick to point out that he was not a Christian, and I hear our friends (and I use that term loosely) at Westboro were even planning to picket a public funeral that wasn’t going to happen. Regardless of spiritual standing, however, there are always lessons we can take from a life lived fully.

One of the best talks I think Steve Jobs ever gave was not a product announcement or a press conference. It was a commencement speech delivered at Stanford University in 2005.

It was a speech filled with frankness about his own mortality. He says:

Death is the destination we all share, no one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be because death is very likely the single best invention of life.

And:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

We tend to view this life as permanent. Even when we acknowledge our own mortality, we always see death as a very far away thing, but we must all realize that it is an appointment we will all one day keep. It is seldom expected. Rarely is it welcome. Still, it’s hard to listen to and read those words without thinking that Steve Jobs’ mortality was very much on his mind, convinced that he did, in fact, take his own future death very seriously.

James 4:13-15 tells us:

Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.

And Peter very much had death on his mind when he penned the opening chapter to Philippians. Chapter 1:18-23:

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

This is the same person who, in Romans 14:8, wrote, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” When it comes to the big choices in our lives, we have to keep in mind that those choices are temporary but may have eternal consequences. If we die, we should hope to die in Christ, and, as long as we live, we should be living for Christ. We only have a short time on this world, and we all know it. Death is certain. When it may come is an unknown, but we are all under a time constraint. We all know our time is limited. We all know we have but one chance at this life. Let’s use it wisely.