Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Size of a Briefcase

Sometimes a news item hits especially close to home and provides food for thought worth sharing. Following is one of those stories for me:

“A Sprint executive died Friday night when a boulder fell off a Colorado mountain and landed on his car. Thomas Murphy, 45, and his family had just finished their vacation and were on their way back to their Kansas City area home. The Colorado State Patrol said they were driving on Colorado Route 82 in Pitkin County, which is where Aspen is located. A boulder that was the size of a briefcase fell off a mountain and hit the family’s Chevrolet Tahoe. It hit Murphy and knocked him unconscious. His wife, Jennifer, put the SUV in neutral, hoping it would stop. After traveling a little more than one mile, Jennifer Murphy, working from the front passenger seat, finally managed to get the vehicle stopped. Thomas Murphy was transported to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, where he was pronounced dead. The Murphys were traveling with their three boys, ages 6, 8 and 11. The 11-year old boy was injured. The other two were not. Murphy had worked for Sprint since September 1996, most recently as a vice-president in the Corporate Brand Marketing Division.” (, 8/15/09)

At one point in his ministry, some people tell Jesus about a group from Galilee whom Pontius Pilate killed while they offered sacrifices in the temple. Their apparent implication is that these people were being punished for sin in their life. Jesus refutes this, and cites eighteen people who had died when a tower fell on them. “Do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

This is about as close as Jesus comes to saying “Stuff happens.” Contrary to the prevailing view in the ancient world, Jesus states that tragedy and suffering are not necessarily the result of wrongdoing; they are simply part of our broken and sinful world.

Mr. Murphy seemed to be doing everything right. Hard worker. Devoted family man. Probably even driving the speed limit. But a boulder the size of a briefcase fell out of the sky and killed him in front of his wife and three children. My heart aches for his family.

There is no lesson here other than the following: Be ready to die. I wish I could make it prettier than that, but there you have it. You never know when your time will come. Here are four particularly important questions to ask yourself:

1) Am I right with God? Am I confident through the grace of Jesus Christ and my faith in Him that when I face God in the Judgment I will enter into eternal life?

2) Have I left anything unsaid or incomplete with the key people in my life? Are there any relationships I need to repair? Do my beloved ones know with confidence and clarity how much I love them?

3) Are my affairs in order? Do I have a will? Life insurance? Do my children have assigned guardians? Will I leave my loved ones with just the grief of my loss or also with the mess of my life?

4) Am I presently living in such a way that if I died I would be remembered with love and respect, and face God with a good conscience?

It’s not fun to think about and plan for death. But it’s one of the most important parts of life.


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