"Taking a Peak at Death"
Can Change Your Life
by Ken Gardner

Juan Gonzalez is a super-star, one of the most famous players in the game today. He plays right field for the Texas Rangers, but his claim to fame is his batting. He hits more home runs than just about anyone and is the backbone of the Rangers offense (his present contract is for $45 million for seven years).

He's a star on the field, all right, but his personal life, at least until recently, has been a mess. He's been married three times, and his last divorce was an ugly one. He is soon to marry his present girlfriend (and she's already pregnant). He had a brother who died of a drug overdose two years ago. Because of his personal problems he began playing poorly. His batting average dropped drastically. Teammate and reporters found him irritable, unhappy and hard-to-get-along-with.

But all that changed in the off-season. This year Juan is playing great baseball. He seems to have re-invented himself. His has a good attitude and works hard, he even showed up early for spring training. Friends say he is happier, healthier, re-energized, more patient, and that they have never seen him more at peace.

What happened? What caused this change? In November Juan met a man with HIV and that meeting changed his life. He came away feeling "touched." Now he says he "looks at life in a different way." He says he has "taken a peak at death."

I wish more people would take at peak at death, not so they could become better ball players but better people. It has been well said that we really don't know how to live until we learn how to die. In other words, we can't truly enjoy this life until we have properly prepared to the life to come. God definitely wants us to take a long, good look at death so that we will turn to Him with penitent and obedient hearts. The psalmist said, "We spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. . . . So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom (or, get a heart of wisdom, ASV)" (Psalm 90:9-12).

The psalmist also said, "Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am" (Psalm 39:4). Concerning the Israelites God said to Moses, "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" (Deuteronomy 32:29). The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes wrote, "It is better to go to the house of mourning, that to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth" (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4). In other words the living, the wise, will "take a peak at death" and will "lay it to heart" that we all must die.

When John Chancellor, former news anchorman and commentator, came down with an aggressive form of stomach cancer, he came face-to-face with the brevity of life. Later he said, "Cancer is a reminder of how short a leash you're on. As I read somewhere, 'You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.'"

What are your plans? If they don't include death, you need to plan again.