As I'm typing today, two of my dear friends are planning funerals for their husbands. One died suddenly. The other died after developing complications following what was thought to be routine surgery. Those wives are grieving and devastated. At a recent business meeting at our church, the names were listed of members who had died since the pandemic began. It was an astonishing number. These were people who went to heaven while the church doors were shut and now we'll never see them again in their familiar pews.
My own family buried a loved one following a socially-distanced funeral with everyone wearing masks.
At the other end of the spectrum, Steve and I added a beautiful new granddaughter to our tribe. Baby Sarah Ruth is growing and showing signs of her unique personality right before our eyes.
Almost two years ago, I wrote a post entitled, "New Life, Unexpected Death and So Much in Between." I'd like to reshare it today.
Last Sunday morning, after an abbreviated lesson on Solomon and godly wisdom, our Life Group celebrated the imminent arrival of a precious baby girl to one of our families. We brought diapers and wipes, ate pink cake and finger foods, and had a great time.
Less than 24 hours later, we learned of the sudden passing of the brother of one of our members — gone in an instant of an apparent heart attack at the age of 46, leaving a wife and two young sons.
One group of people joined together by our faith, ages/life stages, and membership at First Baptist but two events that are polar opposites. One full of joy, expectancy, laughter, and excitement. The other full of shock, grief, tears, and confusion. Both events will cause major disruptions to well-ordered lives, but one is anticipated happily, while the other will have serious repercussions for those left behind.
It’s often referred to as the Circle of Life, but that circle has both ecstasy and agony as we travel along its rim.
Before these two events happened, I attended a family picnic hosted by my uncle in Athens, AL. This uncle, in his 80’s, is coming out of one of the hardest years of his life. Heart surgery, dire complications, months in the hospital, months of rehab, caregivers 24 hours a day when he finally got home, THEN slowly but surely climbing his way back to a semblance of normalcy, even driving. Wanting to express his gratitude to God for being alive and to family for supporting him through the year, he invited 50 of us over, hired people to spruce up his backyard and provided food for all of us, insisting that “nobody bring anything.” He gave a rousing speech before the blessing. He’s a walking miracle, and he knows it.
During the picnic, I watched 2 other family members in their 80’s giving hugs, a cousin showing off her new engagement ring, young second and third cousins splashing in the pool, and we all drank sweet tea and lemonade out of Alabama Crimson Tide cups. Yikes! We Auburn folks are in a minority in this crowd. 🙂
The point is this. If we’re breathing, we are somewhere on this great Circle of Life. How are we managing the stage where we find ourselves? Are we content? Are we doing things that help others? Are we maintaining a good relationship with our family and friends? Do we spend time with God regularly? Are we grateful in good times and in bad? Are we generous with our time and our resources? Do we view each day as a gift? Most of all, are we certain that we will be in heaven with Jesus if our lives come to a sudden end?
I saw a sign once that made a big impression on me. It read, "LIFE IS LIKE A ROAD TRIP. ENJOY EACH DAY AND DON'T CARRY TOO MUCH BAGGAGE." Baggage is detrimental to the journey, don't you think?
Proverbs 27:1 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
1 John 2:17 – “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Let's determine that today, this moment, we will enjoy the gift of life and be grateful for it.