My brother-in-law, Lonnie, died in a helicopter crash a couple of weeks ago. He was an amazing man, and someone I respected and admired a lot. He was very hard working, a great dad, and a strong Christian. He was good at everything I ever saw him set his hand to do. He was friendly and outgoing, and left a trail of people who knew him, respected him, and liked him absolutely everywhere that he went. He had just about every trait that is admirable in a man.
In the week after he died I went to the book store to find some books on grieving and the grieving process. There were two books in particular that someone mentioned as books with favorable reviews to look for. One of them was written by a Christian, for Christians. The other was written from a non-Christian perspective. What a difference! The Christian book was about hope and trust in God. We know our future, and we know who holds us in his hands. The non-Christian book talked about wondering if there is higher meaning and purpose in the universe. It highlighted to me very strongly how important it is to be able to trust God, especially during the dark times. With God there is peace and security. Without God there is just despair and wishful thinking. Either way the grieving process is hard, but without God there is no real hope. I am so grateful for that hope, and for the solid knowledge that Lonnie put his faith in God as well.
Lonnie was in the prime of his life. So often we forget the context of our lives, that we are transients and aliens in this world. I’ve talked about this quite a bit before. Jesus told us to put our treasure in heaven where it counts and lasts, rather than here where it decays and is so transient. Its critical that we keep remembering that reality isn’t just here and now. It lasts into all of eternity, and here and now is a part of that vast context, a context that centers on God and his desire for a relationship with us.
But at the moment we don’t see that whole larger context. All we can see is here and now. More importantly, all that we can do anything about is here and now, Today. We can’t change our past. We can’t do our future until we get there. All we have that we can influence is right now. I don’t know how time will work in the next age, but I suspect even that this will be true. All we can do is what we can do now.
God has prepared things for us to do today. Things that are worth while. Things that matter. Things that impact eternity, and things that impact our lives and the lives of our “neighbors” (by which I mean everybody with whom we come into contact).
Don’t wait until tomorrow. In this life, tomorrow might not come for you. You could be in an accident tonight that would end your time in this world. Today might be the only chance you have to love the people God has put in your life.
But even if it isn’t your last day, the opportunities that God gives you today might not be here tomorrow. The person who God has been prompting you to help might be gone tomorrow, or past where the help you can give them will help them. Or God might choose someone else to do what he has been asking you to do. There are people in your life who are there because God prepared your encounters with them in advance, prepared them for you to love, to forgive, to show grace, to mentor, to encourage, to lead by example. Today might be the only chance you have. The Sabbath that was foreshadowed is coming, but right now God is at work, and he calls us to join him in what he is doing in the lives of the people around us.
Like the rest of us, Lonnie didn’t always live that way, but reminiscing about him in the past few weeks there have been a number of examples of times recently when he took the time for his son to be the most important thing at that moment, to remind his wife that he loved her, to encourage and mentor and teach, and to be a friend. I wish I had seized the opportunities I had to to tell him how glad and proud I was to have him as my brother-in-law.
Whether or not anybody in your life dies anytime soon, the opportunities we have today to do what matters are transient. Make the most of every opportunity. Choose to not waste the encounters of every day life. Do what matters.