If I die before I wake …

I have watched both of my parents on their deathbed.  Both were filled with anguish, and as any child losing their parent would feel, I was overcome with helplessness and grief.  The missed opportunities and reality that tomorrow is no longer available.  The sweet memories of life together that have turned into the stories I now tell my children.  The lingering sting of conflict and anger that served as a reminder of where we didn’t love and forgive enough.  Losing our parents brings such a diverse flood of emotion and memories, regardless of what that relationship looked like over the years.  They passed years apart, my father first and then my mother.  I still hurt when I think that dad has never met the twins, or that each of the kids will not have them at their graduation, wedding or birth of their own children.

On a side note, if you have a broken relationship with anyone close to you, address it now.  The choice to avoid forgiveness and healing can become a permanent path that cannot be altered, and ultimately leads to a path of regret.  The choices we make in hurt and betrayal are a direct reflection of who we are being influenced by: God, who prompts us to love and forgive, or the enemy, who encourages apathy and strife.

As we approach our own death, we reflect on what our lives have meant.  I love talking to the senior generation and hearing about the path they have walked.  The experiences they have had in their personal lives, as well as what cultural and technological changes they have seen put things into perspective about the great fortune we have living in America today.  And although each story I have heard may convey the humor of not having a TV when they were a child (or an indoor bathroom!), the primary focus is always on the relationships they had and the character they had while going through different experiences.

How am I living my life?  I do pray that I’m being loving, compassionate and kind to those around me.  I pray that when I am engaging in a conversation or just passing by someone that they have a sense that I see them as having worth; being important.  The awareness of how a simple gesture can make someone feel about themselves is a lesson God gave me years ago, and I intentionally make an effort to not allow my demeanor to not be off-putting.  The priorities in my life are God and family, then ministry and relationships.  Everything else comes after that, but somehow the “everything else” takes up more time than what should be allowed.  Hmmmm… need to keep reflecting on that for a while.

What are my accomplishments and failures?  I actually don’t think that I have any, at least not on my own.  Those things in my life that I am most proud of have the hand of God all over them.  The birth of my children, the resurrection of my marriage, the calling to ministry and the person I am becoming having been radically changed after accepting Christ.  Yes, those are His accomplishments and I have the privilege of receiving the reward.  Looking back, the failures I have had don’t seem as devastating as they did at the time.  I guess it’s because I know the outcome!  Each wrong decision, misspoken word or cruel attitude has ultimately been reconciled.  Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that it’s all perfect, but I can say that as God has made me aware of areas where I am doing it wrong, I go and attempt to make it right.  There will continue to be failures in my life, I’m sure of that, but I’m more sure of the God who will guide me through those failures and ultimately supply me with peace and a valuable lesson.

As I reflect on who I am today it’s actually humbling.  The direction my life is taking because of Christ is not necessarily easy, but it is one that I continue to pursue because I am content with who I am now.  God has a specific path for me to take and He will keep redirecting me to help me stay on that path.  The more I continue to seek Him, the more it is Him making me a different person.  That new person is focused on being a part of the work to be done.  To be side-by-side with others who have the same goal, live closer to Him so that though us the lost will come to believe.  Choose to live well.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.   John 17:4

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  John 17:17

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.   John 17:20-21

Read Day 14 Devotion by Scott

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