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You’ve heard the phrase before: No Guarantee of Tomorrow

Usually when we hear those words we nod, Yah, yah, yah… and go back to what we were doing. We agree, at least intellectually, but the concept takes the bypass around the center of town. And we’re glad. Now and then the Lord sends the concept right to the heart of town where we have to notice. That’s where I am right now.

Lyn, a good friend of mine, and his dear wife Barb, were part of a team that went half-way around the world this summer to help some missionary friends of ours. This weekend, relaxing in the ocean, something happened (perhaps a heart attack? he was a strong swimmer) and he drowned before anyone on the team could get to him. No warning. None. He’s with the Lord, for which we’re all grateful, but — so suddenly! Instead of sitting next to him on the plane ride home, his wife finds herself responsible for making arrangements to have his body brought back to the states (no small task!!). It will fall to her to tend to things he used to care for once she’s back in the states. There are funeral arrangements to care for instead of joyfully re-uniting with the kids and grandkids before settling back into the day to day routines of retirement. My heart hurts for her, her children and grandchildren. Just like that. No warning. It’s hard for me to imagine.

Curt, a good friend of mine and former colleague was perhaps thinking about the next play, or maybe an illustration for the next morning’s sermon (he’s good that way) while he played softball with his church’s softball league Saturday afternoon. It only took an instant. Hit in the head by a softball, Curt found himself on the ground, then in the hospital. Today’s Wednesday and he’s still there. Eyesight is blurry, ears constantly ringing, in pain, and with enormous gaps in his memory, unable to remember anything about living in Wisconsin, being a pastor, or even that he has a little girl. The doctors say he’ll recover in time (Thank you, Lord!) but my! Just like that. No warning. It’s hard to fathom. One hit. One throw. And this.

Tim is a good friend of mine. He’s wise; I’ve gone to him for counsel often. He sees life through God’s lenses and he believes in me. A CEO who weaves biblical principles into everything he does, and into his company’s ethics as well, Tim is grappling with the stress and tension of another company trying to take over the company he’s built over the years. When I see things on the news I pray for him and his family. But you know, even when you entrust a matter fully to the Lord the way he does, responsibility weighs heavily on you through seasons like this, the more you care, the more serious life becomes. Yesterday Tim learned that his brother passed away unexpectedly. With us one day. With the Lord the next.

Three friends, three incidents in three days have again brought me toe-to-toe and face-to-face with the reality that tomorrow’s arrival is never guaranteed.

In his opening lines James used the phrases “pass away like a wild flower” and “even while he goes about his business” to describe the brevity of life (Js 1:10-11). I’m praying for my friends and their families, you bet I am. I’ve picked out reminders in my everyday world to keep me in constant prayer for them as the day progresses. At the same time I’m checking my own life to be sure I’m in tune with my Lord. If He calls my name unexpectedly (He won’t call my number by the way, He’ll call my name.) I don’t want to look up from what I was doing and wince “Oh – it’s you.” I want to look up, see my Savior’s face and fling my arms around his neck the way a child embraces a loving Father, the way I’m sure Lyn did, and Tim’s brother. Until then I want to make sure I don’t waste a minute of God’s time. That’s easier said than done, I know, but He loves to help His children, especially when we endeavor to live faithful. I want to live each day to the fullest for His honor. I’m planning ways to live for Him, serve Him and grow in Him in the future. But today I’m acutely aware of this truth: Heaven never guarantees tomorrow’s arrival.

Selah —