OK, this one is heavy, really heavy. My heart is heavy. Death surrounds me and it strikes me as a very odd time for this given we are in the week of Christmas. Or, maybe it doesn’t. Stay with me on this…
My assistant’s brother-in-law died of a heart attack at his desk in mid-November. He was a man full of life. He was a craftsman and built a reputation for doing remarkable landscaping and rock-work. He loved life. Loved being on his tractor with his dog in the cab with him. He loved his grandchild. He loved the Lord and the mission field. In the blink of an eye with no warning, he is now gone.
At my office complex there is a man who occupies the suite below us. He parks his truck outside my window and I see him coming and going daily. We never talked to each other. About 6 weeks ago I noticed his wife’s car at the office a lot and saw her dropping him off from time to time. It turns out he had bypass surgery and was on the mend. Something went wrong around Thanksgiving and he passed away suddenly, the victim of a rare post-surgical complication. His truck remains in our parking lot and I’ve watched his wife and two sons come and go as the boys try to pick up his responsibilities running the business. His truck is parked right next to mine and yet he is gone.
A couple we used to go to church with had two daughters. The oldest is engaged to be married. The youngest is in college and loved the Lord and the mission field. Beautiful girls. A bright future. Last weekend the youngest was killed in a one car crash on her way home. Gone and a family will never think of Christmas the same way.
There was a high-profile story this week in the business world – a New York investment banker and his business partner were headed to Atlanta on a business trip. He had his wife and two young children with them to stay in Atlanta for the holidays. They took off in his private plane from NYC on their way to Peachtree DeKalb airport. The plane experienced severe icing and crashed on a New Jersey turnpike killing all 5 on board and leaving another family of three small girls, fatherless. Beautiful, smart, talented people with children with bright futures…gone.
Wow….this is heavy. I’m sorry, I just need to get this out.
Christopher Hitchens – a well-known writer and commentator passed away this week after a short battle with cancer. He was an atheist. Actually he said he was an anti-theist (a term he hoped would catch on). An atheist doesn’t believe in God and can wish God was true but can’t find evidence to support the existence of God. Hitchens didn’t believe in God and didn’t even wish God was true. He radically didn’t believe in God. He loved scotch whiskey, cigarettes and he loved his intelligence. He was smarter than God. He mocked God and those that dared to believe.
I wonder how he feels about that now?
So I see all these bright, talented people with hopes and dreams and plans and they are gone. Quickly. In some cases, in an instant. So we can be smart and accomplished and wealthy and in the end, it all goes away. We can be so “evolved” in our thinking and so intelligent that we can begin to discover that we are indeed smarter than all the rest of the world and then cancer shows up. In the end, it all ends. We can swear off meat and fried foods and become a vegan. We can become a triathlete and only eat organic food. But we cannot out-live or out-smart death.
None of us know. We don’t know when our day will come but rest assured, it is coming for every single one of us.
And so yes, this is very depressing and it seems it has nothing to do with “LiveUP” but it does. It so does. It is all about LiveUP. These deaths are a reminder. They remind us of our priorities and our eternity in Jesus. The remind us that we live in a fallen, broken world but God so loved us that He gave His only Son — He GAVE His only Son — to die — for us.
Christmas was an invasion. God sent Jesus, as a baby, into the world to rescue and set-free the hostages He so loves. Jesus is the great liberator. He breaks the walls of the prison we live in and sets us free. We are free from the worry about death, free from the burdens of trying to keep up with a world speeding towards a certain destruction. We are free from the hurts and pains and loneliness. We are free to live radically in pursuit of Jesus and this desire, this craving we have to be closer to Him.
The call to LiveUP is a call to freedom. It is a reminder to men that have been beaten down and dulled down to an average life that they were bought at a great price. They have been redeemed and the God that set them free wants them to live an abundant life.
Make the most of today and tomorrow and next week for none of us know when it will be our last. Live today better than you lived yesterday. Live 2012 better than you lived 2011. Spend more time in the Word and less time on ESPN.com. Love your wife and serve her and build her up in new and creative ways. Die to your needs and put hers above yours. Write down 5 things you want to do for/with your children in 2012 that you have been putting off and do them. Make it your desire to share your faith with at least a dozen people in 2012. 12 in 2012. One a month. Be bold with that co-worker or the mechanic or the deer processor or the guy at Starbucks.
Live large for the Lord in 2012 and savor your days. May God bless you.