I probably shouldn’t be working on this post right now. My kids are getting ready for school, I should be helping, I should be getting ready right now. But, I feel compelled to write my thoughts. I have been thinking about this for a while.
There have been a significant amount of trials for many of my friends and community members in these past few months and it has brought me to my knees for them many days and nights. I have watched friends and acquaintances deal with cancer, with passing of loved ones (both sudden and drawn out) and with life altering accidents. I have found myself in prayer and pondering often. Mostly, I contemplate on my own mortality and the brief time this life truly affords.
And I am grateful that death is not the end of our existence.
I am grateful that death is just a passing– just a bridge from this life to the next. We miss those who have left us and we mourn their light in our life, but we have hope that we will see them again. We have hope that they find rest in the Lord. We have hope.
What strikes me most profoundly is that none of us has any idea how much time we have left in this life. Both of the people I know that have passed on in the past few weeks were either just older or just younger than my own parents– I ache for their children as I would ache if my parents left me right now. My friend with cancer graduated high school a year after I did. My friend whose husband was in a life altering accident has four kids just like I do. These friends of mine have not died, and yet their daily comings and goings are now forever altered– their lives now split into two halves– before the cancer and after– before the accident and after. Before__________. After__________.
I don’t pretend to know what any of these people are going through or have gone through and I hope I don’t come across as arrogant or preachy. I have tremendous respect and am in awe for the people I see working through these hardships– they are all pillars of faith and examples to me of hope in Christ. I mention these few individuals also because their journeys are recent– the past few years are sprinkled with similar hardships for many other friends and family members of mine, and I certainly don’t want to exclude my love and respect for them.
I don’t know how much time the Lord has planned for me to be here on this earth. My life right now is the "before". I am living the part of my life that is "before" whatever curve ball God throws me that will set the course of my life differently than I had intended. I don’t know if next year I will get ill or if in 10 years my husband will get taken away, or my parents will pass before they see great grandchildren or if I will live long enough to move back in with my children and forget their names. There is no certainty about the course of my life and yet I do not fear.
I am not afraid, yet with everything that has happened lately, I keep wondering, what am I doing with my "before"? Is what I am doing worthwhile? Is it impacting others in a positive way? Will my "before" be so full of wonderful memories that when I hit the "after" I can say that I did all I wanted to do? Or most of it? Or any of it? Am I living my life so that when "after" comes I will be surrounded by friends and neighbors who love me? Will I be lifted up in prayer by hundreds of people who are mere acquaintances or who only know of me?
I sure hope so. I feel pressed to do better.
I know God loves me. I know He has a plan for me. I know that trials come in this life as a way to draw us nearer to Him. As a way to strengthen us. In church on Sunday we were talking about the Atonement of Christ and one thing stood out to me that I guess I knew but hadn’t thought of recently. It was the simple idea that God does not always take away our trials or our burdens– but that He can make them lighter. He will lighten our load and walk with us and lift us up. That simple idea gave me peace. I love knowing that I do not have to go through hard things alone or unassisted.
God loves me. He loves you. He has a plan for each of us.
I have joy in this. I hope you do too.
To all my friends, community members and casual acquaintances– my heart goes out to you. I pray that you reach to the One who knows your every pain and who can lift you better than anyone else. You are stronger than you know, but He is stronger and He will help you if you let Him. I pray that your "after" becomes your new "before" and that is even more awesome than the first one.
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Phillipians 4:13