Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Two Years Ago I Watched A Man Die

Two years ago I was in the hospital room with a man who died.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the room with another person when they’ve passed, but it’s nothing like what is portrayed on TV.  The process was long and drawn out.  The breathing was labored.  There was gurgling and strange noises.  But, one thing was clear … the end was near.  I grieved with the family.  I cried with them.  I prayed with them.  I tried my best to be a comfort and support to them during that time, but it's in moments like these that I often feel so helpless and inadequate.  

In the Bible there is a verse in the book of Ecclesiastes.  It’s Ecclesiastes 7:2 and it starts out by saying this:  “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting.”  I remember reading that and really being confused ... mainly because I like to "feast!"  It doesn’t get much better for me than sitting down to a great meal and really enjoying it!  But, this verse is saying basically that’s it’s better to go to a funeral than to a wedding.  And, I was confused about that until I read on in the verse.  “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” 

Death has a way of refocusing us because it causes us to come face to face with our mortality the fact that we will not be here forever.  The reality is this:  One day someone will be at my funeral.

So, on the day I watched a man die, I left the hospital and made the 45-minute drive home.  I remember thinking to myself “Don’t forget this.  Remember that your days are numbered.  One day that will be you. Until then, make the most of the time you’ve been given.”  

That night, I remember praying over my kids while they slept.  I asked God to help me make the most of the precious time he’s given me with my family.  I prayed Psalm 90:12 "Teach me to realize the brevity of life, so that I may grow in wisdom.  God help me to remember my days are numbered so that I may focus on what is most important.”  I only have so much time.  I want to invest it in what is most important.  I want to fulfill God's purpose for my generation (Acts 13:36)

Even in saying all of that, I can see times when I've failed ... times when I've been selfish or less than patient or less than loving and certainly not full of grace.  But, even in the midst of those failures, the grace of God refocuses me and reminds me that my time is not limitless.  I only have so much of it.  And the truth is, every second you and I are given will be spent doing something.  Every minute we've been given gets spent.  

And, so the encouragement I'm giving myself today and the encouragement that I trust you are receiving as well is to make the most of our time here on earth.  What type of legacy are we trying to leave for those who will come after us?  What type of generosity are we showing to others?  How are we trying to build in to the lives of those closest to us?  Jesus said, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  In other words, don’t just live for yourself.  Live to make a difference.  Live to leave a legacy.  Don’t let work come before your family.  Don’t let bitterness and unforgiveness have a hold in your life and come between those you love. Don’t think that the more you have the happier you’ll be.  And, the reason for that is because wherever your treasure is whatever you think is most important is where your heart is going to be.  Let your heart be with what’s most important.  Treasure your family, your husbands, your wives, your kids.  Treasure the opportunity to offer forgiveness to someone.  Treasure generosity and the opportunity to help those in need.  Treasure your friendships.  Treasure the opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life.  Because death is the destiny of every man, the living (and if you're reading this that is you) should take note.  Walk wisely in the time you are given.
Death is the destiny of every man, but it’s important to know that death is not the end.  We have an opportunity to be in heaven with Jesus after we die. The greatest thing to ever happen to you, whether you except it or not, whether you believe it or not, the greatest thing that has ever happened in your life and my life is the fact that God crossed all barriers, He crossed the expanse of the Universe to become a man and to come after you and me.  "For God so LOVED the world He GAVE His only Son that WHOEVER believes in Him should not perish but have EVERLASTING LIFE."  Jesus gives us a life full of purpose to live today and a life full of hope for tomorrow.  

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