Zeng Jia, a 22-year-old Chinese student, did something quite unusual the other day. She attended her own funeral.
Well, sort of.
She actually staged her own funeral by advertising her death and scheduling a funeral service, complete with flowers and a casket. She also hired a team of makeup artists to give her that recently expired look. On the day of the event, she laid perfectly still in the coffin while her friends strolled by and paid their respects. After an hour, to the utter surprise of her mourners, she climbed out of the casket and gave a little speech about how much more she appreciated life after getting a view of it from a coffin.*
I don’t approve of what Zeng Jia did. After all, it was a lie, and if I had spent my hard-earned money to send flowers, I would have been seriously ticked. But I think I get where she’s coming from. I think a lot of us probably wonder deep down what the reaction is going to be when we’re dead. Will people be sad? Will some be happy? Of course, life will go on afterward, but will we be missed? And will anything we left behind endure?
I like that Zeng was concerned about this at the age of 22. Far too many people wait until their lives are almost used up before they start thinking about the mark they’re leaving on the world.
Paul offers us some clear direction on how to live lives of significance. He said, “Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
That word “opportunity” is the Greek word kairos. It refers to a one-time, passing chance to do something significant. That’s powerful. Every day we all have one-time, passing chances to make a difference. The way you end up living a life of significance is to seize most of those chances. Nobody seizes them all because nobody’s perfect. But the people who grab most of them end up making the biggest difference in this world.
And having the biggest funerals.
*Reported by the Huffington Post on April 3, 2013.