A Word to the Wise: Whitney Houston's death makes us think about life

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
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Here we go again. Life is going on as normal and suddenly the earnest TV reporter interrupts the routine with the breaking news of yet another celebrity death. This time it was singer Whitney Houston. Last month it was legendary college football coach Joe Paterno. There goes singer Etta James and TV mogul Don Cornelius as well. As someone once said, you can be a king or a street sweeper but we all have to dance with the Grim Reaper. Death is an integral part of life. Knowing the absolute certainty of a future date when we must most assuredly die, why then are we so surprised when it finally does occur? On his deathbed Louis IV asked, “Why are you weeping? Did you imagine that I was immortal?” Do you fear death? Many people do. That’s OK, just unnecessary. In Hebrews 2:15 the Bible tells us that Jesus came to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” It may sound trite but it is still true that only when you are ready to die are you ready to live. Each Wednesday as we meet together like this we are seven days closer to the day when there will be “no more death” (Revelation 21:4). The plain fact is that when I die, most of the world will go on as if I never existed. I’m trying to be kind, because the same is true for you as well. Life will go on as it always has. As boxer Max Baer departed this world he exclaimed, “Oh God, here I go.” This stark reality causes me to wonder what we can do to make the world a better place for our being in it. What have we left behind? What memories have we created and what legacies have we formed? How will anyone ever know that I spent a few years on this planet? Celebrities aren’t the only ones who die, you know. Friends, family members, local strangers all around us are crossing the bar daily. The eternal parade relentlessly continues. One of these days our number will be called and it will be our turn to experience life’s final great adventure. Then we can experience what Henry Ward Beecher experienced who, as he was dying, said, “Now comes the mystery.” I am not afraid to die. Not one bit. And therefore, I am not afraid to live. You can reach Tom Rupp at