Here is a photo of my father holding me sitting beside my older brother from a time I don’t even remember. Yesterday was my dad’s birthday and while he passed away over 6 years ago, I spent a couple hours on the phone talking to my older brother, sharing stories about my dad and life growing up with him. We tried to fill in some of the blanks we had to help gain some new perspectives, and to laugh a little as well. Like all of us, my father was not perfect, but it was sometimes easy for us to point out his failures and shortcomings, as family tends to be the most critical of each other at times. Despite these flaws, it is good to celebrate the lives and the joys we shared with them and others while they were here with us. We may wish some things were different about our lives, but we can learn a lot from both the highs and lows we experience with others and with God. How often do you take time to reflect on the past and its influence on your future?
O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:3-4
Just over a week ago, I also lost a young friend of mine who had a remarkable life in his relatively short 26 years here with us. I met Jordan through my work when I first moved to town when he was just in pre-school and had been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I got to know him and his family over the years, and they even asked me to attend a week long Summer camp with him, which happened to be my first time at camp as well. We both enjoyed the experience and went back several times. We also volunteered together for weeks of vacation bible school and met regularly at other times over the years. While the disease gradually took away his ability to walk, to lift his arms and do many of the things we take for granted, he was still able to graduate at the top of his class, attend and graduate from college while coordinating most of his care, also while maintaining a positive attitude, sense of humor, creative spirit, and growing in his faith. I probably learned more from him than he did from me. He and his family taught me about what is possible, despite seemingly overwhelming odds at times, and is a wonderful example of what it means to live a life well. Do you know others who have been a great example for you?
O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Psalm 39:4-5
Regardless of how much time each of us has here on this planet, we are not even guaranteed more than one day. When we can be thankful for the time each one of us and others around us have, we can better appreciate our lives for what they are and who they make us. Despite all of our flaws and the fallen world in which we live, we can still celebrate the joys and possibilities in the lives that we have. We pray for our children and have hope that they will find success and joy in the Lord in spite of our failures and mistakes that we make. Let us all learn from our Savior and brother Jesus on how to be humble, patient, and persistent, while growing in love and forgiveness toward others. May we also learn from the examples of others on lives well lived, so that others may say the same of us. When others are speaking at your funeral, what will they say of you?
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17
Yours in Christ,