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A time to live and a time to die . . . turn, turn, turn.
Growing up in KY, I was famous in 2nd grade because I had authentic Mickey Mouse eraser/pencils straight from Disneyland in CA. These were not the cheap rip-offs you see dealers hiding under their coat and selling in a back alley. My family had just flown back from one of our exciting trips to see my aunt and uncle who lived in CA. Just 3 weeks ago, my beloved Aunt Julie (my mom’s only sister) passed away. In the words of my Uncle John, “It was her earnest wish that all who knew her would remember her passing with the same joy and thanksgiving that filled her life as a child of God, as a repentant and forgiven sinner by the Grace of God, assured of eternal life in His presence.”
Last night my mom called (past midnight her time) to let me know one of our next door neighbors had passed away. Their family moved in the same time we did just before I started 1st grade, and have continued to be a great support for my mom all these years. (People in KY rarely move or leave the area they grew up in ….. maybe because it is such a great area!)
Less than 24 hours later, we got a call from one of Kristen’s relatives that one of their family members had passed away as well. Since the last Perihelion was published, I have known at least 10 people who have passed away including 3 of my teachers (while editing I got a call and the number is now 4) and the wife of the man who had the most spiritual impact in my life. I also heard from parents of 2 families who have lost a teenager in an accident. Both teens had signed up for the Perihelion a few years ago.
All of this, along with Kristen’s diagnosis of cancer described in the last Perihelion (see the articles/blog archive section of Larrybubb.com to read about it), has made me quite pensive and thoughtful about life and death. I have an overwhelming sense of wonder and gratitude to God that He has allowed me to be experiencing life at this time in the history of this planet. I walk outside and I am overwhelmed with “blue for the sky and the color green” as my friend Rich Mullins wrote and sang about. It is a bit frustrating because I cannot come up with the words to express my awe and amazement at this awareness (maybe our English vocabulary does not even have such words?).
I experienced it a bit after 1st visiting Gideon in jail. We would spend a few hours inside a small concrete area surrounded by metal bars and then I would go outside and be awestruck by the beauty of God’s creation and the wide open spaces, which Gideon was not going to be experiencing for some time.
Unless my vitamins turn out to be super miraculous, I am often keenly aware of the fact that I have more days on this Earth behind me than I have in front of me. For some of you younger ones who still read (this newsletter to be more specific), you may have more days behind you but not even realize it. As Randy Stonehill’s young sister said before she passed to the other side, “This life is but a moment in the morning of my day.”
This article is not primarily to encourage us to make the most of time and not take people for granted, though if anyone comes away with that, I’ll be happy. I have shared the following story while preaching many times but I can’t remember ever putting it in the newsletter: Many years ago at camp, I had sung the song I wrote for my father (who died when I was much younger) and mentioned that we should not take others for granted or assume they will always be around. About 6 months after that, I had just flown into a city to preach a revival meeting. Stacy, a junior in high school, practically ran to greet me in the church parking lot. She asked if I remembered at camp when I had shared about my dad and the time being short. Then she told me she just blew me off and let it go in one ear and out the other because she did not think it was anything for her to be concerned about because she was still young. (What a great speaker I am!) Then, with tears in her eyes, she told me that very Thursday after camp, her best friend Eric had hung himself and she had never told him about Jesus.
I do want to use the last few years of my life to make a difference in the lives of others for all of eternity. But I think the new revelation from all these recent experiences is how much I want to savor and enjoy every moment to its fullest. After Kristen’s cancer experience, we are so much more thankful for life. When one is faced with a life and death situation (like when the bear came towards me in the narrow corridor at camp one night), the senses are heightened and life is savored because of the acute awareness that one’s amount of time left on this planet is not known and may be, in all reality, shorter than one expects. Maybe being faced with death so much lately has given me a heightened awareness of life.
So what can I pass along as I attempt to convey my incoherent ramblings? I am deeply humbled for this gift of life and do not want to take it for granted. I want to live it to the fullest, soaking in every minute and enjoying every moment of consciousness God allows me. And I want to say, “Thank You, God!” more often. “I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly (in all its fullness).” – Jesus (John 10:10b)
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