If You Knew You Were Going to Die Tomorrow

As the sun disappeared into the vast horizon, the night sky began to illuminate with countless stars, more than I could have possibly imagined.

It left me in complete wonder.

The gentle sway of the boat coupled with the warm salt breeze put my mind at ease. With each breath, my anxieties faded into the darkness of the night sea. The struggles of the week and the realities waiting back home were out of sight. All I could see were the stars.

Right now, I was here.

Fully engaged in this moment.

Bathing in its richness.

We had just finished a five-day Vacation Bible School on the small island of Bimini in the Bahamas. Each morning, we would rise with the sun as we began our days. The mile trek to and from the church had become common as we engaged the Bahamian people, our new friends.

My friends in Bimini

Although the week was fresh in our minds, those experiences had become bittersweet as we recognized, this night would be our last. The thirty high school seniors that took this journey intending to teach others about God, ended up learning quite a bit about Him themselves.

That night, we gathered on the deck of the ship in circular fashion and began praising God in song.

At that time, I understood our scripture for the week as it became tangible before me:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:14-15

As I looked up at the stars, I felt the hope of God’s word. A  glimpse of the truth. The truth that we could shine like the beautiful starts above.

As we concluded singing, our leader, Paul began talking:

“During the Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts was the first African-American infantry in our country’s history. These men were fighting for their own freedom and that of their people.

The movie ‘Glory’ popularized their story.

In one climatic scene, the night before a great battle, these men gather around a campfire. Fearing their own mortality, they pour their souls out before their Creator.

They knew this night may be their last.”

As we sat there amidst the stars, listening to Paul tell us this story, we began standing. One at a time, we stood to praise God for His love and our shipmates for their encouragement. We started proclaiming all that we were thankful for, as if this night would be our last.

As tears streamed down my face, I rested in the arms of my Creator; humbled by his presence and confident in his spirit.

My shipmates; taken just before sunset on out last night Summer 2000

My shipmates; taken just before sunset on out last night Summer 2000


This memory reminds me to ask myself:

How would I live if I knew tomorrow may be my last?

It’s a very humbling thought. One I often avoid with justified reason. I’m afraid that my fear rests within the uncertainty that I haven’t really lived. In those moments, I’m reminded of the truth from God’s word, the invitation of scripture to shine like stars in the universe.

Death isn’t a reality to fear, it’s an invitation to live.

This is the core message of living richly; redefining what it means to be rich. Allowing the richness of Christ to radiate through us, shining His light to the world; encouragement to embrace each day with gratitude and hope.

As stars, we fill the darkness as we see:

Passion within simple conversations…

Beauty in each smile…

Sincerity in every word…

Richness in each moment…

Imagine yourself going into battle tomorrow, not certain of its outcome.

How would you live?

Enjoy this clip from Glory as you put yourself in their place.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzUUFwbPaE4?rel=0]


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4 Responses to If You Knew You Were Going to Die Tomorrow

  1. Denise Jackson January 25, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Your descriptive writing put me in that gently rocking boat.

    • Matt Ham January 25, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      I hope you could envision the stars!!

  2. Dan Black January 29, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    I love your title, it’s a question that can allow us to be productive with every minute of our time.

    • Matt Ham January 29, 2014 at 7:23 am #

      Minutes turn into hours and hours turn into days and so on and so on – you’re very right Dan!