Cancer is one of those words we don’t want to hear. That one word can strike fear into the strongest of us. When we hear that word from our doctor, images of a long painful illness that might end in death flash through out minds. I have known several people who have had cancer. Many of them beat the disease. Others did not. For some, death came quickly. For others, death came slowly.

I heard on the news this morning that Elizabeth Edwards is losing her battle with cancer. The news report talked about her resting at home with family. The reporters talked about whether or not they would opt for hospice care or not. For now, the family is looking at pictures and sharing memories of life. They are doing what most people do when they learn the end is near.

As a hospice chaplain I walk alongside families dealing with impending death. No one knows when death will knock … only that it will. The psalmist asked, “Who can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave” (Psalm 89:48, NIV)? Solomon wrote, “There is a time for everything … a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, NIV). The certainity of death is real!

Most of us understand the certainty of death. And we want to live a long time. Most of us believe that death will knock at our door when we’re old. But, there is no guarantee of that. People die at all ages. Some of us are told by a doctor we have a terminal illness. For most of us, we have no idea when death will come.

Here’s what I’d like for you to think about: if you were told that you had a terminal illness, how would you prepare for death. What would you do? Who would you talk to? How would you relate to family and friends? What would you put in your “bucket list?”

In a very subtle way, all of us are dying. Fill your bucket list and make the most of life. Sooner or later, Jesus will knock on your door and you slip into eternity.