This week I got a text message saying that one of my friends from High School had died suddenly from an apparent heart attack. We now know it was a blood clot…a blood clot killed a 29 year old girl who was healthy and happy.
I know that death is inevitable. I don’t fear it. I don’t worry about it. I don’t really even think about it…until something like this happens. I am a firm believer in the realities of Heaven and hell and my own eternal security…but all that means nothing when you are the ones left behind.
It probably wouldn’t be as odd a feeling if she was 90 or something, but she was 29. I mean I can remember when my grandfather died…it was sad and difficult…but he was older…it made sense. The experience changes though when its someone your own age…it makes it…well, it makes it difficult to accept and at the same time forcing you to take a look at your life.
The first time I lost a friend my own age is when my buddy Chris died of cancer in High School. I had just become a Christian and I was so angry at God because for the life of me I could not understand why he would allow something like that to happen…in some ways I still don’t understand. I mean don’t get me wrong, I know the theological argument of a fallen world…but that doesn’t make it any easier, if anything it makes it more difficult because sometimes that answer sounds so cold hearted and distant that you can’t even believe the thought when it enters your head.
Then there was Matt. I was at a camp in Michigan when I got the call that Matt went into a coma. We had just graduated Bible College…I had been his RA…He was on a few of the teams I led for church planting…and he got me into Christian death metal (an oxymorone I know). Apparently Matt had diabeties and no one knew. So his pancreas shut down and soon after the rest of his body followed. Matt was getting ready to be apart of a church plant in the Pacific Northwest…but all that ended. I remember getting that call and walking into the woods and crying. Crying for my friend, crying for his family, crying for all of those that knew and loved him. I knew in my head that he was better off…but inside my heart ached…and again I questioned God as to why.
In some ways we are pretty selfish when it comes to death. Because we have to pick up the pieces…we have to struggle with the questions…we have to face the emptiness that we now feel and in the process we experience all those stupid levels of grief…and we end up missing the celebration that actually is life.
Death should not be what causes us to open our eyes to life. Look around you. The sun in the sky, the breeze against your face. Look at your friends, your spouse, your children. Look at the waves crashing against the shore and the birds that fly through the air. Look at those simple pleasures around you everyday and open your eyes to life…understanding that there is a time for everything and realizing that our time is limited.
My prayer, if I can steal a quote from 30 Rock, is to “live every day like it was shark week”.
Our time is limited so why not experience it to the fullest and trust God to leave a lasting legacy after we’ve gone? I’m 29 – and I have a very long list of things that I want to do before I die. Will I get to them all…probably not…but what matters most is that I love God and love people and open my eyes to the simple pleasures, wonders and love that surrounds me everyday.
Cindy Vega will be missed terribly. Chris O’Leary is missed terribly. Matt Bellows is missed terribly. And the list can go on and on…
What I know is this – In the depths of despair and confusion, God does some of His most profound and beautiful work in us.
Until next time.