I’m taking a few minutes out of my morning to post my thoughts about two men in my life: my uncle and my father-in-law. For the latter, today is his 80th birthday and we’re hosting my wife’s entire family here (she is the oldest of five sisters, so you can do the math on the number of folks coming today). My uncle is very, very close to passing away in Indianapolis, if he didn’t pass away during the night.
I was in Indianapolis last weekend to say goodbye to my uncle. I think he knew I was there, but he didn’t respond when I prayed with him. Nearly 3 years ago, I watched my mom go through the same process – the slow, labored breathing, the lack of kidney function and the increasingly extended times between breath.
While I celebrate the birthday of one family member, another may very well pass on. I find this ironic.
They say there’s only two certain things in life: taxes and death. While that’s a bit dark, I’d suggest that what happens after this life is of more importance than what we do in this life. My uncle is a rather rich man. He’s worth millions. But he’s dying the same way my mom did, who had nearly zero net worth. Whatever accomplishments, profit, fame or fortune we might amass on this earth is worthless in eternity. It simply doesn’t matter. All that matters in those final few days of one’s life is what you did with Jesus Christ. Both my father-in-law and my uncle have professed Christ as their savior, so I’m confident that I’ll see them again in the next life.
I find it interesting that death can present us with both clarity on what is really important as well as surface ironies of life. One person celebrates while another faces death. One person laughs while another cries. Ecclesiastes said as much: There is a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to live and a time to die.
While we live on this earth, much of what we do seems so important. An athlete carries a ball past a line and millions cheer. A teacher imparts truth to a young mind and the world is changed. But please don’t be fooled – what we do on this earth isn’t the end game. There is a reality more real than our lives on this earth. Live for God to inherit that reality or spend eternity in a reality that is more undesirable than you can possibly imagine. That really is one of life’s greatest ironies: live for another (God) to save your life or live for yourself to lose it.