“…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14
A few weeks ago my youngest daughter went to bed on a Sunday evening feeling perfectly fine, only to wake up at 5:45 the next morning in excruciating pain. By the time I arrived, my baby girl was delirious, vomiting, and running a very high fever. After some blood work was done, my son-in-law texted to let us know that Rachel was septic. Septic!?!?! How in the world did my sweet daughter develop a serious illness so rapidly? A lump rose in my throat, for I was well aware of the life-threatening nature of sepsis. How could this be? How could my beautiful, young, vibrant daughter become so sick so quickly? I am immensely thankful to the Lord for a full and fairly quick recovery. I’m also extremely grateful for all the prayers that ascended to the throne of God on her behalf, and I truly believe her speedy recovery was a direct answer to those petitions. So, if you, dear reader, were one of the many who prayed for my precious girl, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Over the last couple of weeks since that frightening episode, I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about the uncertainty and preciousness of life. This incident was not the first time I have dealt with the shock of sudden, distressing news. When I was only twenty-one years of age, my brother, one year younger than I, suddenly and without any warning passed away. Almost exactly six years later my baby brother, almost twenty-five years old, went out into eternity with no prior warning. My husband and I had visited my family just a few short weeks before his death. It was Christmas time, and my brother, Randy, had thoughtfully picked out, purchased, and wrapped gifts for my three small children. As those gifts were joyfully unwrapped, I had no idea that it would be the last time I would ever see him.
I think those heartbreaking experiences in the history of my family motivated me to love unconditionally, find joy even in the common, ordinary days with loved ones, and to treasure life more than ever. But, the years pass swiftly, and lessons learned, even in pain and grief, are often forgotten. Sometimes it takes major blocked arteries in the heart of my beloved husband, the passing of a dear friend, the serious heart defect and open heart surgery of an adored six-month old granddaughter, the debilitating depression of a close loved one, or the rapid onset of a serious infection in a cherished daughter, to jolt me back to reality. You see, the inescapable truth is that life is brief. If someone lives ninety or one hundred years, we think they have lived a long life, but even a century is a minuscule drop of time in light of eternity. The reality is that life is uncertain. During Rachel’s illness I heard so many stories of the rapid onset of critical and sometimes fatal ailments. We are not promised tomorrow. And life is precious…every life is precious…all of life is precious. So, the Lord graciously reminded me once again to express my love to those I care about. He once more brought to my remembrance the necessity of forgiving others, sharing the gospel, hugging my kids, building tents for my grandchildren, enjoying the company of my husband, and being about my Father’s business.
Several months after a dear friend went to be with the Lord, we saw his oldest daughter at a Bible camp. My husband asked this godly young woman what she had learned through the whole terrible ordeal of her father’s battle with cancer and ultimately his death. Without hesitation she replied, “Life is brief, and Christ is precious.” I recall those wise words often, and they remind me of what’s actually important.
A common theme in the college my husband and I attended was “Only one life; so soon it will pass; Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Although we frequently sang that chorus, and I heard those words many times, I had no idea how quickly life really would pass. And now that I’m an older woman I want to encourage younger women to live life with eternity in mind. Love those around you. Make sweet memories with your family. Share Christ with your neighbor. Don’t take your husband, kids, parents, or friends for granted. You never know when things might change forever. And when someone you love is in the ICU that expensive purse you had to have won’t mean a thing. When you’re staring death in the face you will be oblivious to your spotless house, successful portfolio, and big promotion. We have been given one short life to live for the glory of God. Live it with His glory as your chief aim, and in old age you will have few regrets. By God’s grace, that’s how I desire to live and die; because life really is brief, and Christ truly is precious.
Soli Deo Gloria