“Well, I suppose because I am more afraid of not living than I am of dying.”

That was my wife’s rather surprising answer to the question, “That is so dangerous! Why in the world are you going skydiving?”

For the record, I, her scuba-diving, power-lifting, martial-arts-practicing, white-water-kayaking, wilderness-hiking, general-thrill-seeking husband was not the one who asked her the question. I have no intentions of ever jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, but I am completely supportive of her desire to do so. But in her answer to the well-meaning friend who asked the question, I find a great truth of life that is incredibly apropos to the current climate of mixed fear and enthusiasm over the reopening of the economy.

For a couple of months now, all day every day has been filled with words and phrases that were mostly unheard of a year ago: things like Covid 19, flattening the curve, social distancing, and even daily death counts.

In response (and perhaps even drastic overreaction, time will tell) most of life ground to a halt by government edict. Tens of millions were put out of work. Many small businesses closed their doors forever, utterly ruined.

But now the pendulum is beginning to swing in the other direction. Restrictions are being lifted, and many businesses are being reopened. And, predictably, polls are coming out each day asking the question, “Are you ready to be out in public again?” or “Would you feel comfortable going to restaurants again?” or some other iteration of that thought.

My answer is always a resounding yes.

Several thousand years ago a man named Job found his life wrecked and ruined. Oh, he was alive, but everything that mattered was gone. In that time of despair, he uttered the words of Job 7:6, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope.”

Job used the picture of a cloth-weaving apparatus — something that very rapidly moves to complete the piece of fabric, which is then cut off — to picture what life had become to him. He was alive, but his days were “spent without hope.”

Like cloth on a loom, life gets away from all of us very quickly. Thus my wife’s appropriate reaction, “I am more afraid of not living than I am of dying.”

I am not equating commerce with “living.” Nor am I minimizing anyone’s fear over Covid 19. I am, though, stating what I believe should be an obvious truth, namely that a life with all risk carefully removed by shutting oneself away from the world is not a life at all. In the words of Eep from The Croods, “That’s not living! That’s just not dying! There’s a difference!”

God gave us exactly one life to live on this side of eternity. And it does not last very long. James 4:14 says, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

Life is too short to live in fear. Proper precautions are a good thing; when I lift heavy, I have a spotter; when my wife jumps out of that airplane, she will have a parachute; and I was in the habit of hitting the hand sanitizer dozens of times a day before there ever was a Covid 19. But that is radically different from simply hiding out forever hoping not to die while not actually living.

And so, with no ill will at all toward those who wish things would stay closed for the next year, or two, or “as long as it takes for a cure,” I will stand on the other side of the issue. Open the coffee shop, and I will stop in for a frappe. Open the restaurant, my wife and I will plan a date. Open the gym, I will be the first one on the bench. Open the beach, I will come to soak up the sun. Open the church, I will gladly come preach a revival.

When I get to heaven and God asks me how I enjoyed the life He gave me, I want to have a lot of interesting things to tell him.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C. He is a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. He can be reached by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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