Today is the second anniversary of the death of my husband's friend. They went to high school together, and were each other's best man when they married. He was a firefighter, but he did not die as a result of his work. He died from a heart attack at the age of 53, leaving behind three kids and a wife.
When he died, my husband grieved, of course. This was his friend, after all. And it hits close to home when a friend dies. This is the first of our friends to die, and as I attended the funeral, I thought to myself that there would only be more occasions such as this.
Over the past number of months, I have thought a lot about death. There are people in my local church who are sick, some with very serious, and ultimately, terminal consequences. There are some younger people suffering. With the good health that we enjoy here in North America, we tend to see death as something for older people. My next door neighbour is 91 years old, and still mowing his own law, albeit, not with nearly as much precision as he used to. Sometimes, it doesn't make sense that my neighbour lives so long, yet my friend is a widow at such a young age. But that is just how life works. God has his reasons for calling some home earlier than others. That sounds trite, but it is true.
It's crucial that we be aware of our mortality. Sometimes, when we're young we don't live like we're going to die. And it's not just teenagers who think they're immortal. Even older people, married with children, can live that way. When we live with the knowledge that this life is temporary, it ought to dictate how we live while God gives us breath.
There are days when I wonder what would have happened if instead of staying home full-time with my children I had juggled both career and family. There are days when I think to myself that I haven't done so many things I wanted to. I had occasion to be working with a younger woman, and she was a little too conscious of the fact that despite me being almost 20 years older, she was directing me. It was actually a little condescending. She had achieved more of a career than I ever will, and was a mother at the same time. I found myself feeling kind of bad about myself.
On days like today, though, when I see what my friend remembers about her husband, and what I remember about her husband, it isn't the career he had that stands out. It was the man he was. He was a godly husband and father. He was a good friend. He cared about people. He loved his family. I assume he was a well-liked employee judging from presence of other firefighters at the funeral, and the testimony of his co-workers. But the kind of firefighter he was depended on the man he was; he was a humble, godly man.
We chase after a lot of things. Sometimes they're good things. But sometimes, we're chasing shadows, and don't even see it because we don't have a proper perspective on what we're doing here and where we're going. People who have experienced physical suffering or watched a loved one die young have this figured out, but for those of us who haven't experienced death in that way, it takes a little longer.
As I have been reading a few books this summer, many common themes have dovetailed: the kingdom of God, the pursuit of holiness, the sovereignty of God, the sufficiency of Christ, the need for daily interaction with God's Word. These are the things we should be chasing. They're right there for us to grasp a hold of. Those are the things that will endure, regardless of any other achievements. Everything else is secondary.