When you serve in ministry you have the privilege of being with people in some of the most important times of their lives: births, baptisms, weddings, and when they face their own mortality. When I am invited into some of the holy moments, I take it with reverence and with humility. Occasionally, I come across more than one of these moments on the same day. Those times always get me thinking.
One day recently, I saw a young family who has just moved into the area. They are a picture of potential and possibility. A new community and new job and new friends are just within arms’ reach. Their beautiful young children are friendly and polite. What a joy to see. As their mother pushed them away in the stroller, I thought about the wheels that were taking these young ones to new adventures. They thought nothing of the means to get there, but only the adventures before them.
My next stop was to see a former colleague. He has moved into an assisted living facility. His health is failing and he can no longer take care of himself. He gets around with a motorized scooter because he now lacks the energy to walk the halls that his nurses cover in just a few purposeful steps. I thought about the dichotomy of those wheels of his scooter and the wheels of the baby’s stroller. It is almost as if we could say: “From your wheels as a child you came and to your wheels you will return.”
However, let us not necessarily linger on these “bookend” moments. What matters is the middle. I wonder if we are living as if to make our days in the middle count for something? Are they days where we would sit in that motorized scooter, near the end of our time here, and be glad for the choices we made and the people with whom we associated? Would we wish we had taken more chances? Would we wish we had tried some things that seemed too crazy at the time? Will we be full of regrets of the choices we had made or the ones opportunities we passed by? From my observations of those moments, it is when we ignore the call of God in our lives that while we live on this earth, we mourn our death in other ways.
Sarah Corson writes: “...the realization came to me that there is more than one way to die. We will all die physically. But if we are afraid to follow God, if we are afraid to step out into the unknown when He calls us, then we can die mentally and spiritually while sill existing physically...If we had been afraid to do what we knew we should do, if we had stayed in our comfortable situation at home...we would have dried up and died in another way. I knew in that moment that God was reminding me that it is far better to die physically than spiritually. (Sarah Corson. Risking Everything. SIFAT Publications, Lineville, AL, 2010.)"
What is God calling you to do with your days in the middle? Are you living or are you drying up and dying? We will all come to an end of our days on this earth, but we can live these days and countless more.
“Jesus said ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26