A Reminder that Life is Short…
A friend of mine from high school died this week. He was two weeks shy of his thirty-sixth birthday. We hadn’t been close in a long time. While we had been good friends in middle school – riding our bikes all over the neighborhood, playing pick-up football and basketball, “swimming the neighborhood” on summer nights (an activity our parents frowned upon whereby we would “swim” blocks at a time in the middle of the night by jumping over fences, diving in a pool, and then jumping over the next fence into the next pool, and on and on…). But in high school we seemed to drift apart and then we totally lost touch in college when I went to Chicago and he went to Austin.
So, I was pretty surprised when Leslie and I got a call at 10:00pm last Sunday night from one of our old classmates (I met my beautiful wife at the same school in 7th grade) letting us know that our friend had passed early Sunday morning in his sleep. He had been at his mother’s house caring for her because she is close to her own death from cancer.
The meaning of his passing – especially as a thirty-five year old son and brother – didn’t hit me until I was at the committal following a beautiful Memorial Service. One of the hardest things for me to witness was seeing his parents and sister having to bury their son. It was almost too much for me to bear imagining having to do the same to Cole, Gray, or Westy.
As I sat there thinking about my friend, I wondered what he was thinking – right then from heaven – watching down on our sadness. Was he glad to see how many people loved him? Was he nodding his head at my simplicity and selfishness? That for the past 17 years I hadn’t bothered to give him a call and now I was sharing my condolences with his family wishing I had done more for him or been a better friend. I suspect that now that he is in heaven and has God’s perspective, he wishes he had lived as if life is short and that he was wishing that we would understand that and live that way too.
Because, Life is short. Even if you live to be 100 year old, to my friend in heaven, it is the blink of an eye.
It is a good thing to attend a funeral. Especially a funeral for a thirty-five year old who a week ago thought he had a whole lifetime ahead of him. It gives you perspective. I just wish I could bottle that perspective, mix it with what God teaches me in the Bible about how to live, and then go out and do it… every day. In fact, just one day I would love to come home spent in the evening, lay down in bed next to my wife and say, “Leslie, today I spent the whole day glorifying God and loving others fully and completely the way God has taught me through his word. And now, I need a good night’s sleep.”
Unfortunately, I am a sinner. And I am afraid that as soon as I finish contemplating heavenly perspective and I am confronted with humanity, I will slip back into my human condition that is selfish, jealous, greedy, and afraid.
The good news is, that is exactly why God came to earth through his son Jesus Christ – because of our human condition. And interestingly, the more I recognize my sin, and His greatness, the closer I get to that eternal perspective.