And then one day you find ten years have got behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun…
– from “Time” by Pink Floyd
My thoughts will not be unique today, nor my perspective revolutionary. In fact quite the opposite. There is not a human alive (except for perhaps the very young) who has not at some point, and more likely at many points, pondered his mortality. Today was such a day for me. Not only did i learn today that a friend of mine is gravely ill, perhaps so severely that she may not recover, but my most immediate co-worker had a very close friend pass away yesterday. It must be stated (though i know there is no such thing as “dying too soon” if all these things are in the hands of the Lord) that both of these individuals are quite young, and both were taken ill very suddenly, within the past week.
The natural bent of the human mind during such occurrences is thus: how fragile is the substance of life, that it can be so easily lost. This is not a profound revelation, of course. i have no new or enlightening wisdom for the subject. i cannot provide any insight or clever words which can open new doors of understanding for us. All i can do is join with every man, face the brutality and severity of the mortal existence, and most of all wonder if i have done anything worth a fart in my life.
One issue immediately springs to mind when contemplating the brevity of this life: any moment with an individual may be my last. My last interaction with my friend (and i pray it was not my last interaction, merely the most recent) involved a good deal of sarcastic ribbing. i would be surprised if she was upset by this, if she even caught on, but nevertheless i know in my heart it could have been otherwise. i could have spent the afternoon listening to her and sharing in whatever way possible the love of Christ, either verbally or just by demonstration. Instead it was the furthest thing from my mind that day. All i wanted was for people to laugh at my jokes and think i was cool.
My co-worker’s friend went to the doctor yesterday morning for a headache and died that day before leaving the hospital. Morbid though it seems to dwell upon, perhaps it is good to be reminded from time to time that any one of us could go at any time. We must be prepared for the sudden and unheralded departure of our friends, our loved ones, or even ourselves. What does being prepared mean? i think for me it means reaching the people that are around me every day and loving them the way God does. It means not flitting from encounter to encounter trying desperately to pollenate the idea that “i” am somehow awesome and should be loved. It means not simply “ticking away the moments that make up a dull day.” It also means not traipsing through days with money or food or some slovenly grumbling on my mind about how this or that situation ought to be more to my liking. Nothing is right with the world, really: it is a broken creation, and not made less so by any complaints of mine. It IS made less so by the redemptive work of Christ, and only that, so if i truly wanted something to change, i would spend every waking moment living and breathing this gospel. Anything less than that is laziness, unpreparedness, and improper perspective. So today, one day in a row, i made a point to mention God in my conversations with my co-workers. i pray that He will sustain me in that effort for some time to come, but also that He will grant me the ability to love and not just lecture.
i am sure God’s plan in these heartbreaking circumstances is immensely greater than a mere lesson for me: there are many relatives and friends who are closer to these individuals who are hurting in vaster and deeper ways right now than i can fathom. i am praying for them earnestly, and that is of course the first and most appropriate response. But it does me no good to pretend to be unaffected by what has transpired or the confluence of these events in my life, so i am grateful that He has reminded me today through them that my calling is the gospel, and nothing else.
Say a prayer for those involved, if anyone is out there reading. i would appreciate it, as would they.
In all things, great and small, His will be done. Hard to say sometimes, but ultimately it is the only thing we can say that makes any sense at all.
1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
P.S. If you choose to, you can experience this Psalm expressed quite wonderfully as a musical piece here. (If you are curious, you can find the lyrics here.) Just as the work begins with dissonance and seeming chaos, there is a similar discord in our hearts when troubling times arrive. Resting in God’s wisdom, providence, and sovereignty is the only thing that can settle this disquiet in our hearts in any lasting way.
Time lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., T.R.O. INC.