Life First

What would you do if you only had 14 minutes left to live?

By Fr. Don Braukmann/St. Philip’s, Bemidji & St. Charles, Pennington

Thankfully, Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, backed off a threat made weeks ago claiming his military was preparing to fire four missiles at Guam in mid-August. As we know, the war of words has been heating up for many months (years) with the dictator. Most presume it was because of pressure from North Korea’s only true ally, China, which caused the pull back in rhetoric.

Guam is a U.S. island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific. 163,000 people live on the island and it sits 2,131 miles southeast of Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons. It would take just 14 minutes for a missile launched from North Korea to reach Guam.

Even though this most recent threat has mercifully passed, the question remains for all of us:

What would you do if you knew you had just 14 minutes to live?

14 minutes: Where are you (where am I) at with God?

14 minutes: No time to call a family meeting and repair old wounds and resentments.

14 minutes: No time to run to the church to find a priest for confession as he, himself, is facing the same dilemma!

14 minutes: No time to get to the airport and fly out of Dodge.

14 minutes: Forget using cell phones, the system will be overwhelmed.

14 minutes: It is taking me an awful lot longer than 14 minutes just to write this column!

14 minutes: What would you do?

I wish I had a profound answer as to what I would do. I don’t. I guess it all comes down to the fact I need to be living today as if it is my last day so when those last 14 minutes come I won’t question where I am at with God.

I believe one of the most fundamental questions of life is not whether we will die, or when, but how will we live? How are we living right now, in this moment?

I was once told to live my life by first deciding what I want written on my tombstone and then live backwards from that. Good advice.

One quote chiseled into a tombstone that has stuck with me is: “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”

Living life in 14 minute clumps may not seem practical, yet it changes one’s perspective on many things.

As we pray the Our Father we say, “deliver us from evil.” Spell “evil” backwards and there you have it: LIVE! The anecdote for evil and selfishness is to live life, every 14 minute clump, believing the light within us and within the world is greater than the darkness!

Eternal life is not our first goal ... loving Christ is! Loving as Christ loved solves all the world problems from those in the womb to the threat of nuclear annihilation. And love is an action word; it means to live life to the full!

In the movie “Collateral Beauty,” one of the lead characters said this about the moment he became a father: “When my daughter was born, I felt love. When I held her, I became love.”

14 minutes. Lord, help us to “become love” now, and when the clock starts ticking on those 14 minutes, we will stand tall on our knees.