Life & Death

“I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the mire and clay”

U2 – 40

You don’t have to turn on the TV, Twitter or talk on the phone to know our lives are a little bit different right now.  Just look at your window.  I live right across the street from a very busy restaurant that is always jam packed, especially when the weather is nice like it is right now.  As I look across the baron parking lot I’m reminded that today is not like your typical day in Austin, TX.  Normally this weekend, SXSW, our annual music, movie and tech festival is kicking into gear.  Hundreds of thousands of creatives from all over the world descending on Austin to enjoy the weather, the BBQ, the beer and some amazing music and movies. I love to ride those dangerous (my wife’s words) Lime scooters and as I scootered around downtown the other night, I was amazed at what a ghost town Austin is right now.  Sure, there were a few folks inside bars and restaurants.  Brave souls undaunted by the spread of Corona or powered by the OG Corona (with lime), getting in a final last meal and a cold beverage before they retreat to their homes for Netflix and frozen pizza.  (Good luck finding any frozen pizza btw)

So, as the panic sets in, as the soccer moms fight over the Charmin, as the talking heads debate whose fault this whole thing is, a bizarre peace washes over me.  Sure, I’m not too excited about my 401k balance – not that it was much to get excited about in the first place.  I’m a little nervous for our son who is about ready to graduate from college and his job prospects post CoronApocolypse.  And I obviously feel terrible for the folks that have contracted the virus or have already passed away from it.  I will be the first to admit that I’m very lucky right now.  I’m healthy and as far as I know, I’m Corona-free.  I have a roof over my head.  I have a stocked fridge and my last paycheck cleared.   But honestly, even if you took all of that away, I don’t think my attitude would change a whole lot and here’s 3 quick reasons why:

  1. I believe that Jesus Christ died on a cross 2000 years ago for me and that one day I will be with him in Heaven.  The Bible, a book that stirs up a lot of mixed emotions these days, promises us eternal life for those that put their faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Prince (the purple one not Harry the defector) said, “Life is forever.. which means a mighty long time”.  I’d argue that eternity is just a little bit longer.  No, I can’t get my head around anything past 100 years or so but I choose to believe that eternity really does mean forever.  That helps me put this relatively “short” time on earth into perspective and helps me not worry too much about current events. 

2.  I’ve already experienced some of the ups and downs of life in my 47 turns around the sun and some of the most fulfilling, heart changing times of my life were when I was at my lowest.  About 12 years ago my wife and I were over $100,000 in debt.  I had just changed jobs and we were barely holding things together financially.  Was it easy? No. Was it stressful? Yes.  But God got us through it and showed us that there’s more to life than material possessions.  That there is more peace when you are fully dependent on God than when you are trying to “make it happen” all by yourself.  I’ve been through a divorce.  I’ve been a single parent. I’ve tangled with substance issues.  I have had too many personal and professional disappointments to name.  But through it all, through the mistakes, the hurt, the pain I’ve experienced and the pain I’ve caused, God still loves me despite everything I’ve done and everything I haven’t.

3. I say this a little tongue in cheek, but it’s true-  I’ve actually already died once this year.   I had a heart attack 5 months ago today.  My heart stopped for about 45 seconds and thanks to miraculous timing, some amazing doctors at the Austin Heart Hospital and the electro-magical current of a defibrillator I’m still here.  And it’s that experience that has helped me see life and death in a whole new way.  You see, this world sucks a lot of the time.  It’s hard. It’s disappointing.  It will let you down in small ways and in big ways that will bring you to your knees.  There are wounds that people give you and there are self-inflicted ones that hurt even worse.  Yes, I will also be the first to admit that there are amazing moments of brilliance.  Getting your driver’s license.  That college diploma.  An awesome spouse.  Great kids.  A comfortable home.   That job that fulfills you. A shiny sports car.  A nice portfolio.  A great vacation home.  Those grandkids. A life well lived in the service of others.  All awesome stuff that we need to value and celebrate every single second of every day.  But how many of those things will matter to you when you die?  What can you actually take with you into the afterlife?  Turns out not a whole lot. 

Awesome – so what’s the point?  For me personally, the point is that despite the news and regardless if things get better or worse, I want you to know that there is a peace you can have that transcends anything this world can offer.  There is a life for you that can have meaning beyond your present happiness and personal fulfillment.  There is a future for you that really truly only starts the second they are putting you in the ground. 

If you don’t know how the movie ends, I will leave you with that little cliffhanger.  But if you have any questions about my faith story or want to know more about how you can find true meaning and peace in your life please don’t hesitate to reach out.  You can email me 24/7 at briantraudt@gmail.com and I promise to write you back. 

Hang in there and cling to Hope.  God loves you and will take care of you if you put your faith in him – I promise.

Brian