Recently, a sweet friend left this life and stepped into the presence of our Lord. We, along with a crowd of family and friends attended her celebration of life this past weekend. And surely as I’m sitting her, I know there was a great crowd of witnesses welcoming her home. For she knew, as cancer ravaged the clay vessel of her temporary dwelling, she had an eternal home with a heavenly body waiting for her.
Although we celebrate the indescribably and glorious joy set before her, we also mourn, as I know she must have when she first received her death sentence, her diagnosis of cancer. We mourn because we have eternity set in our hearts and we long for death to be swallowed up in victory. We mourn because we know we have been created for more than this, more than suffering, more than disease, more than death. So we groan (and mourn) with all of creation, awaiting redemption, awaiting for all things to be made new.
As I joined others in the worship and the message (my friend wanted the focus to be on our Savior and not on herself) we couldn’t help but contemplate, appreciate, participate in the bitter blessing she was given to live out in her finals years. For she was more aware of the coming day when her life on this earth would be done.
We all know our days have been numbered and the Lord knows each one, but we are not always privy to that news. Too often our life here is done before we had the chance to do it well. We are too busy striving, too busy planning, too busy worrying to truly live.
Jesus had a few words to say about that. And they comfort us when things are hard. They seem a nice thought for one day, when things settle down. But now. Well, we’ve got this and that and the other.
My friend however, knowing she was not promised the years to come, lived life big, lived life abundantly, lived life colorful and lived life well. In doing so, she also died well.
As I wiped the tears from my eyes, my heart was challenged, my soul convicted, my spirit confronted. How will I live each day? That thing I’m afraid of, will I take the leap? (my friend went skydiving!). That thing I’ve been putting off, will I do? (my friend did the things now she knew she couldn’t do later). That conversation I’ve been avoiding, will I speak? (my friend always asked the hard questions).
The choice, as I consider my friend’s life and death, is to do as she did, to set aside the Chayei sha’ah, the fleeting life, and embrace Chayei olam, the lasting life. To live life well.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 (NLT)