Have you ever looked at a snapshot and in one split second memories rushed into your heart? These memories did more than prod your mind. They created emotion. Or better said, they opened the door to emotion already there. This happened yesterday. Only I wasn't looking at a snapshot. Rather, I was looking at a yellow piece of paper.
Yesterday, our office manager checked the voice mail just before the assembly began. She heard one message which caught her attention in particular. She handed me the yellow piece of note paper with the details. I saw a woman's name and then the news that her son had died the day before. Life as a young adult had been very difficult for him for a lot of reasons. Now his brief life on this earth was over.
This was like looking at a snapshot. I immediately thought about earlier years when she and her husband and their son Michael were a part of our church family. I was a young minister in Alabama. They were a little older than us. A sweet couple who worked hard, paid their bills, and loved their young minister and his wife. They smiled a lot, loved our two small children, and were just "there." They were present in a very important way. Steady. Constant. Not fickle. Not demanding. They were friends.
This woman has had a tough life. Her husband had one stroke in his forties and then another stroke and then died. Now she will do what every parent dreads. Today, she will bury her child. A very young man and her only child. (I think of Jesus' encounter with the widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-17) after she had lost not just her husband but her only son as well).
I spoke with her yesterday afternoon. The conversation had to be brief. I told her how much Charlotte and I loved her and her husband and son. She said, "Those were really good times weren't they?"
I don't have any photographs of them. But I do have an entire photograph album etched in my mind. Recalling those names. Hearing her voice. Thinking about our almost eight years with a church in Alabama. These cause me to see pictures again. Pictures of friends and important moments that will always be there.
1. I want to remember these are hours and minutes and seconds never to be repeated. How are you using this time? Will today be a part of someones good memories later on? Or will you blow through the day, focused on your agenda, your list, your desires, etc.? Everyday, I have a choice as to how I am going to treat the people in my life.
2. I want to remember that my family and friends are expressions of God's grace. Do I take them for granted, acting as if they owe me something? Do I need to express my love an appreciation to a friend for just being there? Who are the people whose very presence have added so much to my life?
(A suggestion. Is there someone who you need to call today? Someone who you need to e-mail? Is there someone who called you, perhaps a longtime friend and you never followed up by returning the call or e-mailing back? Why not take the initiative today to connect with someone in your family or a long time friend?)