The ancient wisdom of Proverbs speaks bluntly: “Do not boast about tomorrow, because you don’t know what the day will bring”(Proverbs 27:1). James, the brother of Jesus, recalls that wisdom, and says, “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).
Those words have hit me like a sledgehammer this past week. Heather Yoder, a beautiful young wife and mother from our Dover Campus, was at an early Christmas Eve service on December 24. On December 29, I officiated at her memorial service. Heather had a headache and felt increasingly ill. In the afternoon she interrupted her Christmas Eve plans and went to a local hospital. They quickly sent her to Cleveland Clinic. Within 48 hours she went home to be with Jesus.
I still can’t believe it. It is so hard to process and grasp. The only thing that gives me comfort and strength as her friend and pastor is knowing Who Heather knew, and knowing how she lived her life. Her life was totally committed to Jesus, and she lived a life of service to others. She served in children’s ministry here at NewPointe, and her loving service to her husband, children, family, and friends was above and beyond. She lived her life with such integrity and devotion that, in the most important things, when it came time to leave this world, she had nothing to do but leave. No unfinished business, no relationships to mend, no hurried prayers to make things right with Jesus.
Some very specific thoughts keep running through my mind. They are very sobering, and I pray that you will seriously consider them:
- Life is brief. Tomorrow is not promised. Whatever tomorrow will find you wishing you had done, do it today.
- Nothing is more important than relationships. As you go into 2018, prioritize your relationships with Jesus and your family above everything else. Leave no one in doubt of your commitment and love. Forgive quickly; ask forgiveness quickly.
- Two memories from my childhood surface with powerful impact. Dad had speakers put throughout our home so we would hear gospel music throughout the day. Back in the day, radio stations signed off at night. At midnight every evening (sometimes I got to stay up long enough to hear it), the owner would say, “This is Jack Mortenson, reminding you to live every day as if it were your last—one day it will be.” Advice that really hits home to me today. Take today and the way you invest it seriously. Don’t just “kill time.”
- The second memory is that both sets of grandparents had the same little sign in their houses. It was “Only one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” That doesn’t mean having a professional Christian job or even the official things you do to serve. It means that every day you choose every action through the lens of, “Is this something I can do for Jesus? Can I ask Him to bless it?” Don’t try to compartmentalize your life. You can’t do it. It is to be all for Jesus; all a gift to Him.
I love music—God uses it to comfort me, make me courageous, give me clarity. I love the contemporary worship songs and the old hymns and gospel songs. A song we don’t hear much anymore—probably no one but the older folks know it—speaks into my soul this morning:
“I don't know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from the sunshine
For it's skies may turn to gray.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what lies ahead.
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.”
I have found this to be true, and I am asking for another full cup of this grace today. Will you join me in praying for Myron, Corey, Abby, and Liz?