Facing Mortality

            Two well-known American athletes died in the same month, in the year 2000.  Payne Stewart, a professional golfer, died in a plane crash.   Walter Payton, a running back for the Chicago Bears football team died of bile-duct cancer.  Both were relatively young.

These deaths had an interesting affect on a young man that was a celebrity in Seattle – Ken Griffey, Jr.  Ken Griffey was with the Mariners for 11 years, delighting Seattle fans with his home runs and great catches.  But his home was in Orlando, Florida.  Ken Griffey sacrificed time with his family to play baseball in Seattle.

After the deaths of his fellow athletes in the year 2000, Ken Griffey decided to leave Seattle and work with a team located nearer to his home in Florida.  Griffey talked about his decision:  “While my decision was mainly about family, this is what led to my final decision.  On Saturday (Payne Stewart) went to see his son play football – his first football game – and he caught a touchdown pass.  On Monday, his wife and daughter kissed him goodbye.  Forty-five minutes later, he’s not there anymore.”


Think of famous people who have died during your lifetime.  Did any of those deaths have an impact on your thinking about your own life?  Have you lost family members or close friends?  Did your thinking change at all after their death?

When you choose activities, like sports, travel, career or entertainment, do you give thought to whether or not there is danger involved?  Some careers or hobbies have higher risk of injury- such as police work, professional sports, mountain climbing or farm work.  Does your career choice, or any of your hobbies have a high risk of injury?  How do you feel about personal risk?  Do you like to take risks?  Why or why not?

If you are a parent or plan to be a parent, did/will your idea of reasonable risk change when you have children of your own?  How do you feel about your children being involved in high-risk hobbies or careers?  Would you try to talk them out of it?  Why or why not?  What arguments would you use to change their mind?

Were you ever in a situation that was high-risk, when you were afraid for your life?  Please describe the situation.  What did you do?  Has this situation affected your thinking or personal decisions?






Paul, a church leader, writes to friends from prison and talks about his near future – will it be life or death?  What do you think of his reasoning?


“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.

“But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;  yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.

“And convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith . .”  Philippians 1:21-25