There are many things in life that seem so far out of control. When a new mother prepares to give birth, she has no control over the day or time that her baby will be born. Thus on the other end of life, we have no control over day or way a person’s life here on earth ends.
Last week I made a trek to the mountains of Southern California, to honor the life of my grandfather who had passed away. It was a time to mourn and a time to reflect.
Death, to me, is still one of the most unnatural parts of life. I don’t believe that mankind was created to die. God’s original design for us was to live and to thrive in His beautiful earth creation, and to have direct fellowship with us. Unfortunately sin broke that fellowship and the consequence of death was introduced to our once perfect existence.
This morning as I start my day, I find myself reflecting and remembering the funeral service for my grandfather, and trying hard to store the memory and the stories of the extraordinary life of this man. I also find myself pondering about living life well. A value that my grandfather truly embodied, and a desire he clearly had passed on to his children and now grandchildren.
I suppose this is the mercy of death. As someone we love passes on, we cannot help but look at the way we are using the time God has given us here on earth. Facing the reality that our lives are so temporal. That we truly are but a vapor. It causes us to take time to realign priorities and remind ourselves to live with purpose.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last,
but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
I’m sure many of us have read this Scripture before. Is this not the goal? Is the idea of finishing the race, and getting the prize what we put our focus to when we read these verses?
But what about the in-between? I know, at least for me, I get distracted easily. Life has many urgent moments and moments where we get into survival mode. There is so much going on that if we are not careful, if we do discipline ourselves, we can very quickly go from living well, to just trying to get to the other side.
Now, I’m no runner. But I am a horsewoman, and I did compete for several years. In my experience it was sometimes very hard to not rush the horses I was bringing along. I had goals, and those goals were admirable and even good, but I was often tempted to take a shortcut and/or push the horse to do more than he was physically prepared to do. I would forget the benefits of developing my horse slowly, and carefully. My vision would get clouded and I would loose sight of the goal of not only winning, but of improving the connection I had with my horse. The connection which was developed in all the moments in-between and before the competition. The connection which was properly developed when we trained with self-discipline. Which in the end made the winning much easier.
Even as a parent I can see the pressure to hurry through the childhood of my children. It takes an extreme amount of patience to not rush my kids through their school, or tying their shoes to get out the door. I must remember that all those little moments in-between matter. That I am training them in matters greater than the task at hand. I must be aware that how I respond to these in-between moments decides the outcome of the end moments.
With the destination as our focus, the journey will seem to be in the way. Living well goes deeper than that. It is the time in-between the goals that count. The moments leading up to the completion of the race that determine the outcome. So remember, you are in training. Live well so that you will receive that prize that will last forever.