I’ve been saying it for years. Unfortunately this weekend I was shown to be right.
I don’t feel good about it at all.
Years ago I said, “One day that Crocodile Hunter guy is going to get too close to some nasty creature that is going to kill him. And the cameras will be rolling as he dies.”
That is exactly what happened to Steve Irwin this weekend.
Apparently he was filming an encounter with a stingray when it flicked its tail into his chest. The stinger went right to his heart.
His death is all the more tragic, not only because it was senseless and entirely preventable, but because it was so very predictable. We can discuss how relatively safe stingrays are and how few people are actually killed by them until the cows come home. But that misses the larger point of the pattern of behavior that totally tempted the odds which were heavily stacked against him.
We are all wired with certain healthy fears which help us to live longer and have better lives. Steve either ignored his fears or didn’t have them in the first place. The results speak for themselves.
There are some who will try to lesson the tragedy by saying things like, “Well at least he died doing something he loved.” But I’d be willing to wager that if he knew when he got up that morning that he could have the choice between one last swim with the stingrays and watching his two small children grow up, he probably would have been willing to never go in the ocean again.
They say that the most common fear we all have is the fear of death. No one really knows for sure what is beyond life. Some speculate that it is just nothingness. Other people have an understanding of paradise and hell – places of everlasting pleasure and suffering respectively.
But the point is none of us really knows for absolute certainty. Even the most sure are exercising a degree of faith because they have not seen it with their own eyes.
Perhaps the clearest picture of what happens after we die was given to us by Jesus. Here is what he said about the subject.
Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed and who lived each day in luxury. At his door lay a diseased beggar named Lazarus. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. Finally, the beggar died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham.”The rich man shouted, `Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in these flames.’
“But Abraham said to him, `Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. Anyone who wanted to cross over to you from here is stopped at its edge, and no one there can cross over to us.’
“Then the rich man said, `Please, Father Abraham, send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them about this place of torment so they won’t have to come here when they die.’
“But Abraham said, `Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read their writings anytime they want to.’
“The rich man replied, `No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will turn from their sins.’
“But Abraham said, `If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’ “
Jesus shows us there are two possibilities after death. Taken on its own this story might be interpreted to mean that rich people will never get to heaven and poor people are guaranteed a ticket in.
But that is not what Jesus is getting at here. The one who ended up in heaven read what the Bible had to say on the subject and took it to heart. The one who ended up suffering either chose not to read or read and didn’t believe.
The Bible is very clear on what is required for a person to “make it” into heaven. There is no reason for anyone to doubt. And we can face even death without fear.
The Bible explains it this way:
For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.
I can’t make it any clearer than that. I only hope that Steve Irwin chose to believe before he went swimming with the stingray this weekend.