Friday, July 8, 2011

Obsessed with Life

These were the words on the card at the memorial visitation of Jeremy Fischer: "Jeremy loved life here on earth.  Because he had a personal relationship with Christ, his life is not over.  He has a new life-not of this earth but in Heaven with his Savior."    Jeremy was 18 years old when he and two friends set out for a 4th of July party this past Monday.  As so many young people have done, they were speeding and the end result was a tragic accident and all three boys died.  Life for the families of these boys will never be the same; their children are gone.  The Fischer family has decided to trust God to make sense of this horrible event and to use this opportunity to tell other young people about how they too can have a relationship with Jesus.  Standing there, beside that casket tonight, my mind went back to some of the other young people that have touched my life. Young people whose lives seemed far too short.

Joyce M. Saylor, was my husband's mother.  She died of cancer at the age of 19.  My husband was only a year old when she died and he has no memory of her.  I have always wondered what kind of mother in law and grandmother she would have been.  My own mother and Joyce were friends in high school.  I remember my mom saying that she would never have believed that she would be the mother in law to the precious baby boy the Joyce left behind.  This was a tragic event in the Saylor family, but they too chose to trust in the Lord and not to rely on their own understanding.  Her parents raised my husband, and they were wonderful grandparents to our children.  We lost them in 2003 and 2004.  I know there must have been a joyous reunion when they were finally able to hold their dear daughter again after 40 years of separation.

John Stump came in to our lives as a near homeless 17 year old, who needed a family and some stability in his life.  My sister and her husband, who was John's cousin, took him in and he became part of our family. He lived one street over from us and John became close to my kids.  I had the opportunity on several occasions to witness to John and we had many conversations about forgiveness and moving on with life.  He had been let down by a mother who was more interested in her boyfriends than her own children, and a dad who was more interested in drugs than his own children. John moved in with his aunt as soon as he graduated but we saw him occasionally and still considered him family.  I remember the day I heard the words come out of John's mouth, "I have testicular cancer".  I cried all day, I couldn't believe that a boy who had been let down by so many people, was now going to be fighting for his life.  Over the next 2 years we watched as he had many ups and downs, then he left us.  At the funeral my brother in law took me aside and said that John told him that it was because of our family that he had come to know the Lord.  He had prayed with a pastor before he died and gave his heart to Jesus.  

In contrast to these lives cut so tragically short, I recently said my final goodbyes to my precious grandfather.  He lived a very long and full life and set a wonderful example of faith and dedication for his family to follow.  As I took this picture this evening, my mind raced back to a dark stormy evening when I was 15 years old.  I was spending the night with my grandparents and I had been upset and crying most of the evening because a boy had broken my heart.  I remember my grandfather sitting with me at the kitchen table and asking me if I was ok.  Then he began to cry also and he said "Pam, my family means everything to me, I hate to see you so upset".  My Papaw was one of the most tenderhearted men I have ever known. 

The old saying is that our lives should not be measured by the date of our birth and death, but by the dash in between.  The dash in between Jeremy Fischer, Joyce Saylor and John Stump's birth and death is certainly not as long as that of Roscoe Burns, but the things that happened during their lives are no more or less important because of the length of their days.  I realize with the loss of so many family members in the last 12 years, I could become obsessed with death.  I like to believe that rather than being obsessed with death, I have used these things to try to become obsessed with life, instead.  None of us knows the number of days we will have until it is our time to leave this earth.  The dash on our headstone should be filled with love and laughter, family and friends.  It should be filled with helping others, leading people to Christ, cherishing the simple things that God has given us to enjoy.  It should be filled with all of the things that make us happy.  I like to believe that in enduring so many deaths, I have come to cherish the simple and beautiful things in life.  Bees buzzing in the flower bed, the sun streaming through the front window every morning, the sound of the piano being played in my house, lightening bugs, and puppies with their butts stuck up the air as they dig under the shed.  Old black and white pictures of relatives, the joy of watching a child open a birthday gift, the smell of a fragrant candle burning in the house or a freshly brewed pot of coffee.  These are just some of the things that make my day a little happier. I want to be so obsessed with life that I never fail to stop and admire the handiwork of God as I see a beautiful sunset.  The vivid colors of fall, the new life of spring; all of these things are much sweeter when you realize that they are part of the dash in between.

I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  John 11: 25-26

1 comment:

  1. Oh, such a beautiful, beautiful post!!! I, too, want to be obsessed with life, and I think that is God's plan for us, as well. He says in Deuteronomy 30:19-20, "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him, For the Lord is your life..."

    Thanks for such a beautiful reminder. Your posts are fascinating. Love you!