“Be kind to the ladies in your life today. Everyone’s first pretend boyfriend just died.” That Facebook post sums up the reaction of many people to actor Luke Perry’s death this past week (well, except for the men, but you get the point).
Perry skyrocketed to fame on the popular 1990s television show “Beverly Hills 90210.” He became the heartthrob of teenage girls around the world with his good-bad boy persona and James Dean-esque appearance.
Luke Perry’s death after suffering a massive stroke sent shockwaves through Generation X. It’s not that we haven’t experienced the unexpected passing of other beloved icons of our generation. We lost Aaliyah in a plane crash, River Phoenix to an accidental drug overdose, and Selena to the bullets of a crazed fan’s gun.
We mourned the loss of these stars but in a “that could never happen to me” sort of way. Young people die from out-of-the-ordinary things like accidents, drug overdoses and sometimes cancer. They don’t die from massive strokes.
But maybe therein lies our problem. Perry’s death has caused us to wrestle with our own mortality. Maybe Luke Perry wasn’t young? Maybe those of us who grew up idolizing him are no longer young either? If he could die of a stroke, could it happen to us, as well?
Moses’ treatise on the fleetingness of life is recorded in Psalm 90. He laments, “For in your sight a thousand years are like yesterday that passes by, like a few hours in the night. You end [our] lives; [we] sleep. [We] are like grass that grows in the morning—in the morning it sprouts and grows; by evening it withers and dries up.”
He continues, “Our lives last seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years. Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”
In the same vein, David cries, “O Lord, make me know the end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am” (Psalm 39:4).
What does it mean to number our days? The answer is twofold. First, we live every day as though it were our last. Second, we make plans for how we will spend the future we pray God grants us here on this earth.
If I knew that today was my last, I would spend a lot more time with my husband, children, friends and family and a lot less time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
I would make sure that they knew I loved them. We would play games, dance, sing and laugh until our bellies hurt. We would read the Bible and pray together.
I would make sure that they knew how great our God is and how I never could have made it through this life without Him. I would recount all of the ways He provided for me and would tell stories of the miracles I have seen.
But odds are good that today won’t be the last day of my life, and I pray that I have many more ahead of me. In light of that fact, how I spend my time now directly impacts what my future will hold.
Author Lara Casey asks this thought-provoking question in her book “Make It Happen”: “What will be important to you when you are 80?” Again, when I am entering my golden years, I can’t imagine I am going to care much about the new Netflix series everyone is binge-watching or what someone said about my political or religious beliefs on social media.
At that point in life, the most important thing to me will be the relationships I have built with my husband and daughters (and grandchildren, yikes!). I want to have used my words, both spoken and written, to tell of God’s glory and to point people to Him in all that I say and do. I want to be able to travel and be active well into old age.
Those things don’t just happen by accident. They require purposeful planning and daily cultivation now. I must schedule quality time with my family, but also be open to the spontaneous memory-making moments when they come. Eating healthy and exercising must become daily priorities. In order to share the truths of God’s word with others, I must read, study and memorize the Bible.
How would you spend your day if you knew it was your last? What are you doing now to create the future you dream about having? Don’t wait until tomorrow to answer those questions, for tomorrow may never come.