Watching the flooding in Pakistan on television this morning, I was struck by the fragile flower that life is. (I know...this is a heavy way to begin a post - and on my twin daughters' birthday at that! Stick with me, I hope you'll be encouraged.)
Our life is a vapor, Proverbs says, and then it vanishes away. I saw a man in Pakistan, about my age or older, clinging to a large chunk of something, hanging on for dear life, in all those raging flood waters. I will never know if he made it out alive.
But I have him to thank, whoever he is. For some reason, it hit me with vivid reality that life is lived one long day at a time. Thousands of days that man had lived, and it all came down to what may have been his few final minutes. I watched that man, for a moment, and was overwhelmed with the fact that he was born, had a childhood, probably loves someone, or several someones. A lifetime of memories were right there, clinging and fighting just so that one more day could be lived. That man, if he lived, will never again have an ordinary day.
I hope I don't, either.
Someone said "the days are long, but the years are short" and they were exactly right. My life has been lived, thus far, one minute...one hour...one day at a time. I was born, I had a childhood, I've learned a few things and loved a whole lot of people. Countless moments, one after another, add up to what is my whole life today. Much effort, many prayers, tears, laughter, pain, and joy have gone into my one life already.
And it could easily be all over in a matter of minutes.
The human body cannot go ten minutes without oxygen. In ten short minutes, my whole life, all its hours and its days and its years, could be finished. Final. Any thoughts yet unspoken or unwritten would die with me, unexpressed. Memories that are mine alone will slip into eternity with me, they will not be left behind in a box or gathered up with my things. Why do we not spend more time reminiscing? The Lord has been so good, and I am commanded to remember! So that my children, and their children, will remember. So that my friends will not forget.
Anything, to be remembered collectively, must be talked about, and more than once. Time has to be taken, around dinner tables and over telephones, and in cars and in front of the fireplace. Moments must be stolen back, and memorials made to the faithfulness of God. "Remember when...??"
And how about these words: "I love you."
And, "I am sorry. Let's begin fresh, slates wiped clean. You - a spouse, a parent, child, or a friend and child of God - you with an eternal spirit, you are far too important to be abandoned this way, and I want to come back and rebuild that which is eternal: our relationship. Quick! Hurry, let us go back to loving each other before the sun goes down, and this one precious day is over!"
Fragile woman, I am. Because my life is as a vapor, no day is ordinary. Every day is a gift. Life is far, far too short to not place urgent and immediate value on my relationships. Theoretically, in less than ten minutes, all that has been left unsaid, will never be said, this side of heaven. Every wrong not made right, will be left just as it stands in the heart and memory of someone I say I care about.
This day was not ordinary. It was not common. It was filled with the atmosphere of eternity, and loaded with value. I pray I have invested it well.
Because I will, one day, stop breathing. Less than ten minutes from that moment, I leave it all behind. Ten short minutes.
This day, in pictures ~
I began it by filling the house with sunflowers - always sunflowers for my girls' birthday.
Stopped by this shop
For a dozen of these. Oh...my...heavens. So good.
Justin and Hannah brought this home from an antique shop today. Timothy Paul will be joining us for dinner here, by this time next year.
Dad and a few of his kids, playing "that game".
And playing...and playing...(it is nearly eleven, as I type, and they are playing it again!)
Happy Birthday, my Sarah Howe! Your first birthday as a married woman, and you are more beautiful than ever. As the sunflowers will always say, "I am so proud of you!"
No...it has been no ordinary day. Tomorrow will also be absolutely stunning in its unique opportunities and responsibilities. The sunrise will be God's encore of the miraculous. The moment my eyes open, it will be time to be about the business of loving God and loving people. Oh, God! May I live tomorrow's minutes and hours with full awareness of their worth!