A few months ago, I was driving back from the funeral of a friend's not quite 22 year-old son who had died suddenly and without warning.
He was almost exactly the same age as Jordan had been when he left this mortal life for the one he is enjoying now and will enjoy forever.
Although Jordan was closer in age to this young man's older brother, the boys had grown up together in Sherman, Texas. Our families went to the same church and on Friday nights every one dropped their children off at the church to attend our home fellowship group while the kids enjoyed their own version of "fellowship."
I was one of the first people my friend called from outside her son's apartment. She and her husband were two of many who had walked with us through the nineteen year roller coaster ride that was Jordan's life. They were on my "Dear Ones," newsletter list. They wept with us when Jordan died, and she kept (and still keeps) in frequent e-mail contact with me.
So I had to go to the funeral. And as much as I dreaded it, I wanted to go to the funeral. I needed to offer whatever small comfort I could. I understood her unspeakable grief and I needed to hold her tight and let her sob.
It was a very dignified service. Simple. Sad. Yet full of the assurance he was enjoying the same joys Jordan was experiencing. We even asked each other if Jordan might have been one of the ones who were privileged to usher him into the presence of God and giggled at the thought of these boyhood friends exploring heaven together.
I followed the caravan to the cemetery then started the drive home, but I couldn't get him off my mind. There was no explanation for his death. He had just died. A month or so before his twenty-second birthday his earthly life was unexpectedly over.
I was closing in on a semi and mindlessly gauging when to pull left to pass him when I saw something on the back of his truck I had never seen before. There was a sign with his picture on it which read, "Congratulations Marvin: the 1,000,000 mile club." I realized with a shock that Marvin was being acknowledged for having spent enough time in an 18-wheeler to have driven over a million miles!
I wanted to honk and wave as I passed him, but I was afraid he might get the wrong idea. Still, a million miles! I couldn't help but wonder how long it had taken him, how many days and weeks and months and years of his life he had spent behind the wheel barrelling down some highway. I wondered what he did when he wasn't driving; if he had any hobbies he enjoyed or interests he perused. I wondered about his family and how old he was. I wondered if he acknowledged and served the God who had granted him life and continued to grant it to him.
I kept thinking about the contrast of these two men: One I knew, one I didn't. One young, one older. One taken, one left. One sitting, one soaring.
My mind went to a little Scripture chorus we used to sing in YWAM taken from Psalm 90:12 where it says, "Teach us, dear Lord, to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
I couldn't help but reflect on how well I was doing that. Was I properly applying my heart to wisdom or just barrelling down the highway of life?
We often read those good intentioned slogans that are supposed to help us focus on what's important in life like, "Live each day as if it is your last." That's ridiculous, of course. I mean really, if you knew this were your last day on earth, what would you do? Go to work? Take out the trash? Dust the mini-blinds? Send a frantic e-mail? Pray? Read this blog? Well, okay, I'll grant you that one...
But seriously, there is no way we can realistically live each day as if it were our last. But I know what the people who spout that tripe really mean. We should live fully. We should savor life. We should appreciate all we have. We shouldn't sweat the small stuff. We should worship God and enjoy those He has given us.
We should live as if this life matters. Because it does. And so does what we do with however much of it God allows each of us.
"May you live every day of your life." Jonathan Swift