What do you have planned today? My guess is that, if you are like me and like most people, you didn't stop to think beyond the busy-ness of your schedule; the appointments you have to keep; the responsibilities you have to fulfill; the birthdays or anniversaries you can't forget; the bills that have to be paid. Daily life for most of us becomes a routine. We get into those routines and then seldom pause to think about what life would be like if that routine were interrupted.... especially by some life-changing event, phone call, chance meeting or profound spiritual revelation. If you are like me, you just assume that the plans you have made and the relationships that you have come to take for granted will be constants - maybe even things you take for granted.
"Now listen, you who say ' Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why you don't even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will we will live and do this or that.'" (James 4:13 -1 5)
Who are the important people in your life? Have you told them you love them and that they are special to you? Who, in your life, are you at odds with? Have you sought reconciliation with that person? What important tasks are sitting on your desk...not just the mundane, daily chores of everyday life... but the things that you really value and want to accomplish? Will they still be sitting there tomorrow, waiting for your attention?
Did you pause this morning to pray? Did you say thank you Lord for another day of life? Did it occur to you that perhaps you should submit your plans to God, realizing that in gracious providence, the Lord may have something different for you than what is on your agenda?
May 8th, for the last 12 years, has been the occasion for me to remember that I can't take a single thing for granted any more. It sounds corny, but the slogan seen on some bumpers which reads "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" is true. Each day provides an important reminder to reconsider priorities; evaluate activities; renew relationships and live life to its fullest because, in fact, our lives are a mist and we don't know what tomorrow will hold. In some ways, it could be just as accurate to say that "Today could be the last day of the rest of my life."
12 years ago today, I was living in the delusional bubble that I was in control of my life and that my daily routines, my plans, my goals, and my relationships were all on track and that I could assume I would have the next day, and the next day after that, and the day after that to do what I wanted to and what I had planned on.
So, I was going about my daily routines with that mindset. Getting ready to make a move from Las Cruces, NM to pastor a church in a new place called Enumclaw, Washington, I went through the paces of doing my usual stuff plus preparing for what I assumed would be a fairly non-eventful transition to a new pastorate. One of the tasks on my agenda that day was to show our church's bus to prospective buyers from a church in El Paso.
The appointed time - which I had entered into my infallible day planner - had come and past. Our buyers weren't there. So I was just leaving the parking lot to go home when they pulled in. I hesitated but then went back to meet them as had my friend Bob who was an elder and the mechanic who took care of the bus.
To make a long story short, 30 minutes later, I was being loaded into an ambulance to be rushed to Memorial Medical Center. Bruised, battered, partially paralyzed, and fighting for life, I came to realize that my closely planned schedules and plans for life were tossed into complete disarray. Fourteen weeks of hopsitalization later, several surgeries to mend broken bones back together, and hours of therapy, and I was a changed person...no longer in control of my life.
I can't tell the whole story here. Perhaps if my book is ever published, you can read more about the events of that day and the ensuing lessons our family learned as a result. For now, just let me be a voice of reminder to you not to take today for granted.
The chance to play some jazz with my group for a Ladies' Tea this weekend seems like a great gift. Being able to go work out at the gym - even though I don't like spending 45 minutes on an elliptical trainer and stationary bike - is a special privilege I didn't think I would ever have. Just being able to walk downtown to hand out some posters and flyers for our church's new coffeehouse venture seems like a blessing today and and activity that twelve years ago, I would have taken for granted. The coffee I bought from Starbucks tastes just a little richer to me today. So, I think I will stop writing and finish it while it is still warm. Thanks Lord for the gift of life today.