Eugene Cho

steve jobs: reflections about birth, death, and the life in between

By now, you’ve heard the shocking news of Steve Jobs’ passing at the age of 56. Like many, I extend grace and prayers to the entire Jobs family.

Like some of my friends and readers, I do not personally have an “emotional” connection with Steve Jobs because I am not a Mac user for these reasons (although I occasionally use an iPad that was given to me as a gift). I’m sure many of you could write and write about your appreciation and admiration for Steve Jobs. And perhaps, how he changed the way you live your life.

But like others, I have much respect for him.

Needless to say, Steve Jobs was a brilliant man. For reasons that many of us already know, Steve Job rightfully deserves much praise for his legacy and oh, what a legacy! President Barack Obama conveyed it well in his recent statement:

Brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world & talented enough to do it.

While I am not the most qualified person to speak about all of Steve Jobs’ accomplishments, these things I know:

  • He was brilliant and charismatic.
  • He was wealthy.
  • He created a global icon and was an icon himself.
  • He was the epitome of innovation.
  • And the list goes on an on.

And yet, he died. None of those things could have saved him from death.

And he knew he was going to die. All the money and all the advanced treatments could not turn back the devastation of his pancreatic cancer.

Steve Jobs wasn’t naive about death; he shared this wisdom so beautifully and poignantly in his 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart…

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

There are no certainties in life.

The myth of the straight line from A -> B has been debunked and if you don’t know that, you’ll soon know and be humbled like so many of us have been humbled.

But…there is actually ONE certainly or rather, TWO certainties in life that unifies all of humanity:

Life and Death.

These two things, we share.

If you are reading this now…congratulations…because you are alive but also know this: you will one day face death as Steve Jobs faced death…as I will one day face death.

It’s not a statement of morbidity but simple truth.

Steve Jobs shared:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life

So. very. true.

But let me add couple more thoughts:

I’d like to strongly encourage that for us, as followers of Christ, to be reminded again that death is NOT the final song. It is not a statement of arrogance or condescension but rather a declaration of the hope and grace of the Gospel.

Death is NOT the final word.

Rather, it is only the beginning of eternity of communion and fellowship with God our Creator. But be warned: Rather than seeking eternity, we live in the present – in the HERE and NOW – with beauty, hope, and courage.

Lastly, while I certainly resonate with Steve Jobs’ encouragement not to waste it “living someone else’s life” – may we indeed live our lives but may it also

reflect the life of one person that is worthy to emulated: Christ.

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8 Responses

  1. Marguerite Hwang says:

    Thank you for this pastor Eugene. well said. amen!

  2. […] appreciate what Eugene Cho writes: Death is NOT the final word. Rather, it is only the beginning of eternity of communion and […]

  3. Tim says:

    Thanks for this perspective.

  4. gadberry says:

    The thoughts here are poignant and
    Wise. Death is a reality and if looked at honestly gives good and specific perspective.

    It is a pleasure knowing that Christ has overcome death for us and our eternity is secure and real.

    Let us live expressing the love of Christ so that ultimate life can be discovered by others.

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One Day’s Wages

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In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove .
May we keep working 
on ourselves 
even as we seek 
to change the world. 
To be about the latter 
without the former 
is the great temptation 
of our times.

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