Steve Jobs died last night. He was the founder of Apple and certainly one of the more influential and creative people in our generation. I don’t know a great deal about him, other than becoming a fan of the products he helped produce—Ipods, Macs, Ipads. Sure, those things are just that- things, and they are often over-hyped and venerated beyond what is fitting. But what struck me about Steve Jobs is what I just finished watching- his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005. He told three stories about his life, but the last one struck home- the account of receiving a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Here’s what he said:
“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. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
At the time he gave the speech, he believed that the cancer had been eradicated. Sadly, 6 years later, it took his life. I don’t know about his spiritual life- from what I gather Steve didn’t have a relationship with God. That grieves me, as it should all of us for any person, anywhere.
But that doesn’t change the wisdom in what he said to those graduates- and hopefully to us. Solomon said the same thing a couple thousand years ago: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
What does it mean to live with our death in view? Morbid preoccupation? Fearful timidity? No! Just the opposite! I want to live my life all out- for what matters, what is eternal, what counts. I want to make bold and courageous choices and love God and love others with reckless abandon. I want to live… all out. Fully alive.
As I see it, there are only three things that last forever: God, people, and God’s Word. I want to give myself fully to those three- to those things that will outlive my time on earth. That’s what I want. And it’s what I desire for each of you, too.