01 July

Life - We Only Get One

This past Monday morning Pastor Donna and I found ourselves waking up in the very nice city of Swift Current.  The weather was beautiful and I decided to go for a walk.  I ended up at a cemetery.

Cemeteries are really very peaceful places.  It only makes sense - dead people are quite quiet.  And yet, in death, they still speak with considerable force.

Quite accidentally, at least without any purpose on my part, I stumbled upon the children’s section.  Ironically it was a row filled with children who passed away in 1955.  Michael and Mary Ann were born and died the same day.  Melody lived two days.  Randy lived three months.  All came into this world in 1955 and left the same year.

It was a sobering Monday morning walk because  I was born in 1955.  I don’t get it now and I won’t get it on this side of eternity - Michael, Mary Anne, Melody and Randy didn’t see their first birthday.  I’ve seen many.  Why?  I honestly don’t know but as I walked that peaceful row of tombstones my mind drifted to the message I had preached the day before.  It was about the woman who poured expensive perfume, worth an entire year of wages, on Jesus.  Some of the disciples complained about this great waste.  Jesus corrected their thinking and commended this woman.  He said she had done what she could.  (see Mark 14:3-9).  God has given many years to live and breathe and serve Him.  I pondered whether I have really been doing what I could with those years.

Fast forward to the end of the day.  I found myself in Calgary, Alberta at the manor my Mom lives in.  Our family was gathered to celebrate my parent’s 63rd wedding anniversary.  The special guest of the evening was Mom’s cousin, Garry and his wife, Lea from Kingsburg, California.  It was their anniversary too.  Garry’s Dad was my great uncle.  I only met Great Uncle Herb a couple of times but he left a mark on my life.  He took me aside as a ten year old boy and said he saw the call of God on my life and that I should enter the ministry.  He read the children’s story about the train that said “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” and it did.  That story has framed my approach to life and ministry and overcoming setbacks.  I believed I could do things through Christ who gives us the strength to make it through as a result of the encouragement of a great uncle who lived in California.  He did what he could.  In the brief intersection of our lives, he spoke into my life.  He read the same story to our sons when we visited him in 1983.

Life - we only get one.  My accidental stumble through a row of tombstones in Swift Current reminded that some of those lives are shorter than others.  Yet in the end the question is not how long we lived but how well have we lived.  Have we done what we could?  Have we given our best? 

                                                                           …….  Pastor John