I thought about a friend this past week. She and I had attended high school together and had been fellow band members. I vividly recall her typing furiously as we played Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter Song.” Though we never “dated” we ran in the same circle of friends. Her dad was the preacher for a congregation in my hometown. Through social media, we were “friends” and regularly exchanged the customary “Happy Birthday” and “Happy Anniversary” greetings.
I do not know what triggered my thoughts of her, but it occurred to me that I had not seen anything about her in quite a while. I went to her Facebook page and noticed the last post was in February 2017. “Chemo, the nightmare begins,” it read. I scrolled back a few posts and saw the dreaded words, “Pancreatic cancer.” Since there were no further posts, I curiously searched and, sure enough, found her obituary from April 2017.
My initial shock has given way to deeper reflection. Several months ago, I preached the funeral of another classmate and childhood friend who died of cancer. My random thoughts are not easily organized, but there are two truths that continue to surface.
The first concerns death and the brevity of life. The New Testament writer James expressed this thought with the familiar words, “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Job said, “Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain” (Job 14:1-2). The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Given these realities it is important to make sure that we are in a right relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
My other thought is not of death but of life. We will not be remembered for the number of years in our life but for the life in our years. Are we using opportunities to demonstrate kindness? “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Are we using our allotted time to encourage others? “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
All of us face life and death. Let’s make sure we use our opportunities wisely.
Steve Reeves is the minister at the West Side Church of Christ in Searcy.