Life is a gift
I received a phone call yesterday from a dear friend. She was calling to inform me of a death in my former congregation. Someone I knew when he was just a boy, now still in the prime of his youth, suddenly taken. He was a funny kid, squirrelly and busy all the time. I remember seeing him all over town when I would drive on errands and pastoral visits. Sometimes I marveled at how far from home he was on his single speed bike!
He had grown up, served his country in Iraq and gotten married. Now he was gone. She just wanted me to know. It hit me hard. I remember sharing the gospel story at VBS and seeing his eyes as big as saucers just before he invited Jesus into his heart. (I also remember asking him not to throw rocks in the parking lot for the millionth time and to please listen to his Sunday School teacher better!). He was one of the first kids I watched grow up in the church, so he taught me a lot without having to try.
But mostly I remember that he was a kid God loved and wouldn’t give up on. A kid Jesus died for. A kid who broke his mother’s heart sometimes but then turned around and made her the proudest woman on earth. I’m so glad the church was there to be a place he bounced in and out of, a family he could always be part of.
I had no idea when my friend called that I would end up speaking to the family and eventually be asked to do the funeral. (The pastor’s having surgery so he can’t do it.) It will be my sacred privilege to do this funeral. But it comes about 50 years too soon… I’m glad we did everything possible to bless this boy who became a brave young man. It moves me deeply to never give up on the kids we’re ministering to now. We have no guarantee their lives will be long or pain-free. So we give them Jesus today; everyday, with all the energy God gives. He is all we really have to give. And today is all we really have. Life is indeed a gift to be treasured. We will show it by offering Jesus.