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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"He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:30 We have to remind ourselves of this truth every day lest we forget:

Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant.

Be faithful.

PS: Also, it helps to get some Vitamin D especially if you live in the rainy Northwest Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

If you haven't heard, Jeremy Lin is donating his one games wages (approximately $140,000) and an additional $100 for every 3 pointer made to support Girls' Empowerment and Education through @onedayswages. That game is this Friday vs the Boston Celtics!

Join his campaign as he's inviting his fans to donate just $7. - http://onedayswages.org/jlin

Did you know that 32 million girls of lower secondary school age are not enrolled in school.

Did you know that every year of secondary school increases a girl’s future earning power by 20 percent.

Did you know that if all girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and West Asia had a secondary education, child marriage would fall by 64 percent.

We can't change the entire world but we can impact the lives of one, few, and in some cases...many.

#jeremylin #jlin #linsanity #onedayswages Don't be held captive to either praise or criticism.

Know who you are.
Know what you're about.
Know WHO you serve.

The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
In honor of Sahara...and so many other women who keep...keeping on.

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