August 5, 2009

For All The Saints, Who From Their Labours Rest...

--image from

A few days ago, a friend left this message on my voice mail:

"I hate to leave a message like this on your voice mail, but Linda (not her real name) died. A time and date for her funeral have not been scheduled; just wanted to let you know. Take care; will talk to you soon."

Having not quite hit the half-century birthday mark (almost there, though!), I am becoming accustomed to getting messages like these. Someone I knew as a child, teen, or young adult has died. The age of the deceased no longer matters to me. In Linda's case, she was only a few years older than I. Sometimes, the deceased was a few years younger, or decades older. What matters is my circle of "long-known-and-long-loved" is getting smaller. It's a sign of aging, but it's hard to accept.

Their deaths are reminders I most likely have more time behind me than ahead of me. That knowledge should shift and rearrange my priorities, and it has happened. A few summers ago, I attended the funeral of a cousin who was a few months younger than I. As I sat through the service, I wondered what my life would mean if it ended the next day.

So many of us have planned on living into our seventies and beyond. Most of us will, but many of us will not. What difference does that make as I plan my life? Should it make any difference at all?

One difference it has made for me: I am obeying God's priorities for me more closely. I am killing the excuses that suggest it is too costly to obey God; too difficult, or too inconvenient to just do what He tells me to do. I have lived long enough to know disobeying God is harder and more painful than obeying God. Appearances are very deceiving.

One day early next week, I will attend Linda's funeral. It will be a worship service, a time to acknowledge God's faithfulness in bringing safely home one who loved and followed Him. I hope for some of us sitting in the pews, the funeral will be more than a reunion of oldtimers. I hope it will be a time of rededication.

We never have as much time as we think.

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