I’m excited to share with you a guest post from my friend Sarah Hudson. We had the joy of spending several days together this summer as she and her family were on deputation. Over years of corresponding, we’ve become iron-sharpening-iron friends, and I’m so thankful for her tender mom-in-ministry heart. She’s guest posted for us before.
She shared with me some thoughts she journaled as she processed the death of a member of their church in Vienna. She graciously offered to share them with you, and I hope her words challenge and convict you (as it did me!) to seriously consider how are days, hours, and moments are spent.
As the chestnuts fall here on the sidewalks near the Vienna woods, I am astounded that autumn has come around so quickly. It’s time for blazing foliage horizons, vineyards slimming down to mere stripes on the hillside, and cosy slippers by living room fireplaces.
A year. How quickly each one passes.
Even in October, there are tired-brained moments when I must pause to think as I scribble “2014.”
Time—-so fleeting, so elusive—is marked by these years that are scarcely here before they’ve gone.
My monthly calendar pages turn before I even get used to the picture hanging in my kitchen. Our church’s monthly communion seems to happen every week. Our days seem to be measured by turning off and setting alarms, with the in-betweens growing a bit blurry.
Yesterday as we stood at Manfred’s bedside, I realized that his day was divided—-not by hourly intervals or even minutes—-but rather into labored three second intervals of breathing. His chest was rising in effort, then falling in exhaustion, taking about three seconds.
A breath. Three more seconds passed, repeating the intervals through the evening and the dark night as Christa loving hovered and prayed over this dear husband who had led her to Christ several years ago.
Each minute stretched into about 20 breaths rising and falling in a cadence of gratitude.
Each breath was cause for praise. Each hour a milestone. This afternoon, we slipped into his room for the final 3 second interval. Christa hovered and prayed. Tears coursed down our cheeks. For Manfred, time in Heaven had just begun and eternity lies open-ended.
Time seems cheap to those of us who are living. Three seconds are wasted without a single thought, without a wisp of praise. Hours pass in boredom or worthless pursuits. We “survive” our schedules without doing much true living.
There are lessons for the living found with the dying. Lessons about living a legacy and dying in tenderness. Lessons about preparing in today’s trivial for tomorrow’s trials. Lessons about passing the torch of serving others in the body of Christ.
It was 8 months ago that Manfred was traveling in Israel. Twelve weeks ago, he painted an apartment for a couple in our church. About six weeks ago, he celebrated his 61st birthday with friends in his backyard—without a clue that eternity was on his doorstep. Twenty seven days ago, he entered the hospital for some tests. Today he entered eternity.
How can I begin to harvest my 3 second intervals? How can I wake up to the precious gift of every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year?
The children in Vienna are gathering their chestnuts for decorations and crafts. May I gather with them a new awareness of autumn, the passing of 3 seconds, and eternity at my doorstep.
Oh, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.