“It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57.” So reported his publicist yesterday, news that made instant headlines around the world.
Prince was born on June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was signed to Warner Brothers Records as a teenager; his debut album in 1978 put him on the road to superstardom.
He was a singer, songwriter, multiple instrumentalist, producer, and actor. Prince was often compared to Michael Jackson and was considered a musical genius by many. He won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
No stranger to controversy, many of his lyrics were sexually explicit, a fact that prompted a movement encouraging records to place advisory labels on albums with such lyrics. When his death was announced yesterday, CNN reports that fans rushed to buy his albums amid an outpouring of grief on social media.
Prince’s death is especially personal for me. Not because I was an admirer of his music (I’m more a Chicago and James Taylor fan), but because he and I are nearly the same age. His net worth was $300 million, but he proved that all humans are mortal. As novelist Luigi Pirandello noted, “As soon as one is born, one starts dying.”
This month’s National Geographic magazine has a fascinating article called “The Crossing.” It profiles the various ways people respond to death.
Cryonics is one option. A woman is pictured hugging the container where the body of her husband is frozen in the hope that someday he can be thawed and revived. His last words were “Gee, I hope this works.” Residents of an island in Indonesia preserve the bodies of their deceased family members and keep them in their homes for many years. Some feed them as part of the family meal.
Why do so many fear death or pretend that it is not real? John Donne noted:
Death, in itself, is nothing; but we fear,
To be we know not what, we know not where.
In case the poet speaks for you, know this: If Jesus is your Lord, you will never die. Our Savior was explicit: “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).
When we take our last breath here, we take our first breath there. When we close our eyes on earth, we open them in heaven. We step from time into eternity, from a fallen world into God’s glorious paradise. And we are home.
So live fully for Jesus today, knowing that this is the only day there is. Jesus could come back today, or you could go to him. We are all mortal. But if we know Jesus, the moment we die, we truly live. The worst that could happen to you is merely the door to the best that could happen to you.
Sir Thomas Browne was a seventeenth-century physician and philosopher. He observed that “we all labour against our own cure, for death is the cure of all diseases.” Will that be true for you?