That was a weird weekend…. With all the noise about end of world predictions and significant “life events” going on for me personally, I couldn’t help but ponder the weirdness of it all. I had a definite sense of “vuja dey”, that strange feeling that nothing like this has happened before!
Last night, I was starting to feel like we made it through unscathed, when I heard that a friend of the family passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. That reminded me that, though it’s not the end of the world, the end could be just around the corner for any of us.
Last week started harmless enough. My sis-in-law turned 40 yesterday, and I teased her on Facebook about the lengths she was going to (i.e., end of the world) to avoid hitting “the Big 4-0.” But turning 40 isn’t the end of the world…. Neither is my losing my job, which also happened last Friday – I am now temporarily unemployed. (I knew it was coming, so no worries. Well, not too worried… God’s timing and all that….)
Turning 40? No biggie… I wish I was only 40! Losing a job? Not fun, but I’ll survive. But then Friday night, my oldest son (who will soon be a high school graduate) didn’t come home…. “End of world” worries start creeping in….
“Mr. Independent” had gone to hang out with friends at a bonfire, then go to the late showing of Pirates… fun times, right? But along comes 2am… 3am… he’s still not here, and he’s not answering his phone. We were also concerned because a younger kid caught a ride with him and planned to spend the night here — we felt responsible for him too.
Now, I was sure that my son crashed at another friend’s house and just didn’t call us, because that’s how he rolls! But, with 18 miles of country roads between here and there combined with feeling responsible for someone else’s son, you know what’s coming next. Its 4 am, and I’m driving on unfamiliar backroads thinking “I hope he’s ok… but if he’s not dead, I’m gonna kill him!”
Of course, that thought was immediately followed by regrets if something were to actually happen to him. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found our car parked outside a very quiet home — everyone was fast asleep and all was well. (Glad he’s ok… but I’m still gonna kill him!) Found out later, the younger kid was picked up by dad after the movie, the phone was in the car and my son “intended to” get it and call, but fell asleep….. Sigh…..
As an aside, I am actually very proud of my son and he is really a great kid. Everybody loves him (well, maybe not his English teacher) and friends always tell us what a fine young man he is… (late addition: he did great at the year-end school concert tonight) but he can absolutely drive us bonkers on occasion!
The rest of the weekend, I kept noticing things that reminded me of the brevity of life and how we never know what’s coming….
Our pastor’s parents, who served as pastors to the seniors at our church, had their hometown of Joplin, MO, hit by a tornado. They and other family members were unhurt, but 24 people died (and that initial count was low).
Another pastor shared from the pulpit how she had regrets about the last discussion she had with a cousin of hers: when she brought up Jesus (which had been an open topic previously), the cousin made a joke and she clammed up… and before they had a chance to talk again, he was killed in a fire. She’s left not knowing where he stood and thinking “if only….”
About 30 years ago, I remember a pastor (Greg Laurie, Calvary Chapel) saying “this could be the year” of Jesus’ return. Now, he never said it WOULD be the year, but he saw the signs and thought it could be soon. In the years since, I’ve come to realize that Christians in every generation think “this could be the year!” And you know what? They are right!
I’m not saying that I think Jesus will return this year, because I don’t. What I am saying is, the “end of the world” could be today for any of us. Yesterday was “the end of the world” for the 120+ people in Joplin that died in that tornado. Wednesday was “the end of the world” for our friend that had cancer.
Tsunamis. Earthquakes. Heart attacks. Terrorist attacks. Car accidents.
None of us know when our “end of the world” will come… but we do know its coming.
So, what to do? “Live each day as if it were your last, because time you cannot borrow.” (A line from a song I wrote a looong time ago!) How do we do that?
Love God. Love people.
Do what is right.
Be careful what you say because you can’t take it back. And, say what needs to be said because you might not get another chance.
Life is a precious thing, so try to appreciate it. Why?
Because today is not the end of the world, but it could be….