First there was Michael. Then Farrah. Or do I have it reversed? Well, it doesn’t really matter. They’re both gone, from Earth at least. So are Robert McNamara, Walter Cronkite, and Ed McMahon, and a host of other dearly departed. What these five have in common is that they all contributed a lot to the world. All were stars who shone brightly in their respective fields. Even now I can see Michael moon dancing across a stage and Farrah flashing her beautiful smile.

But now they’re gone “the way of all flesh.” Thinking about them reminds me of a conversation I had with Shirley, my college roommate who now lives in Montana. Recently we spent a weekend together, and one of our many, many topics included life after death. Shirley commented that she had begun to realize the importance of living one’s life with an eternal perspective. The so-called “getting and spending” and striving and climbing and jockeying for position came to naught if a person failed to live a life dedicated to serving God and all of His creations.

I agree with Shirley, as anyone who regularly reads my blog would guess. However, what interests me about our conversation and this way of thinking is that while most people can see that what they do today affects tomorrow in “real life,” they don’t so often think about their “after life.” For instance, smoking is linked to lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and heart disease; excessive sun bathing can lead to skin cancer; too many sweets can contribute to diabetes, not to mention obesity. Speaking of obesity, it’s linked to a myriad of diseases and disorders. Whatever we do or don’t do is going to show up later in life. Along these same lines, exercise (what my students call the E-word) can help a person in every single area of her life, even the spiritual one.

So why is it that a person (me, for instance) might walk six days a week, drink water instead of tea or soft drinks, avoid excessive calories and fat grams, and yet neglect scripture reading or prayer? Why will a person turn her nose up at tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, and yet fail to follow the commandment to love one another?

Hmmm. I don’t know the answers to those questions. It’s just that lately I’ve been thinking of just how much longer I want to live and of just what I need to do to get there. Maybe I should start thinking more about eternity instead. It’s going to last FOREVER.