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What if it was your last day?

By Mark Maynard

Kentucky Today

When generational athletes like Kobe Bryant die in the prime of their lives, the shockwaves that come with it are palpable.

We mourn with and pray for Bryant’s family, with the loss of a husband, father, and daughter. We remember the other seven who perished in that helicopter crash. Let’s not forget those families. The city of Los Angeles has been in mourning all week for Kobe. His impact was maybe greater than even he knew.

Kobe didn’t know when he woke up last Sunday morning that it was his last day. We don’t know either, even though last days, like clockwork, will come for all of us.

Tragedies that involve our beloved sports heroes, like Kobe, brings mortality to its knees in a rare and real way. Others taken away that packed the same kind of punch as did Bryant, the NBA legend, in my lifetime were: Roberto Clemente, Dale Earnhardt, Thurman Munson, Payne Stewart, Reggie Lewis, Len Bias, Hank Gathers and Pat Tillman. They all packed an emotional wallop and made us ask why.

The truth is, last days come every day for someone. Nobody escapes death. We are on this earth for a brief time – even if we live to be 100 – in relation to eternity, making our decision to accept Jesus Christ the most impactful and important choice we will ever make. I’m 62 and it seems like a blink of an eye when I was 41, Bryant’s age when he died last Sunday. He didn’t expect the end to come so soon. None of us do.

We will remember the day when Bryant died, how the news began leaking out on social media on Sunday afternoon and how we began scrambling for our smartphones to find the latest update we could trust. Deaths of celebrities are reported daily on social media – fake news in so many cases – that we kept looking hoping it wasn’t true. Then more and more valid news agencies began reporting it and we try to process. And as so often happens with these tragedies, the more information that started coming out, the worse it became. Like when learning Kobe’s teenage daughter was on the helicopter with him. How tragic. Then there were others with them – first four, then five, then seven. All nine of them have a story and have families that are hurting.

You have a story too and, if you’re reading this, the final chapter isn’t written yet. You still have today, maybe tomorrow, maybe years.

Maybe.

Tragedies like this make us confront this question: What if it was your last day?

Eternity awaits. Make the right choice. Choose Jesus.

Mark Maynard is managing editor of Kentucky Today. Reach him at mark.maynard@kentuckytoday.com