It has been nine years since I lived in North Carolina. I have seen my family on a fairly regular basis over the years and so their aging has not been as noticeable to me. Now that we have started deputation we have been visiting all the churches that I visited as a young preacher’s kid. Most of the people I have not seen in nine years or more. All my young friends that were in their teenage years or early twenties are now very late twenties or early thirties. They have children, jobs, and responsibilities, and they are different. As I have reinserted myself into the old places of my childhood I feel like Rip Van Winkle who has just awakened from his nap. I don’t notice the changes in my own body as much, for in my mind’s eye I am still a young man who just got out of college, but I am far from that. Now teenagers are closer to my children’s age than to mine, and the image of my father grows stronger every day as I gaze into the mirror.
All of this has caused me to reflect. Life is short. One of my great-grandmothers is 99 years old, but to her it seems just yesterday that she was a young child playing in the woods of Nantahala, or a young mother and wife taking care of her husband and her two boys. Now her husband is gone, her oldest son is gone and her baby boy is a great-grandfather himself. Our lives are a vapor, a candle that flickers and that is blown out. If we will work for our Savior it must be now. Plans for the future often turn out to be regrets of the past because we think we have time, but it is slowly draining from our bodies. Life is short, serve the Lord today while it is called today.
Because life is short, it is also precious. As I have moved among the churches there in Western North Carolina, some people are no longer there. Some died in old age, some did not. Every moment of our lives is a precious gift, an opportunity to share love and express our love to others. An opportunity to share the love of our Savior. Don’t squander the gift.
Most importantly, I’m thankful now more than ever for eternal life. Death brings such sorrow. I think of the memory of my great-grandfathers with fondness and I can tell my son the stories of these mighty men but I can’t bring them back. Praise God for time that is to come when no farewells will be spoken. Now let us go and tell others of this hope that we possess.