My spiritual father—who led me to Christ, brought me into ministry, and discipled me—has died.
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I’m prepping for his memorial service this Saturday and just learned that another great friend, who I trained together with in college and spent countless Thanksgiving meals with, just died in his sleep. My spiritual father, Denny, was fighting cancer for years. No surprise with his death. My friend Chris, however, had been healthy as an ox. His death is a shock.
I don’t know what to think. I’m numb and looking for deeper meaning. I’m not sure that I’ll find any. The one thing I’m certain about is that this world is not all that there is. My ultimate hope can’t be that inflation doesn’t soar, or that all my Amazon packages arrive in time. My hope is in the belief that I have a Savior who is preparing a place for me in the next life and has already paid the price for my life to be redeemed. Truths like this, coupled with death, have a way of clarifying priorities.
Resolved to live more for the next life…
I don’t think about this truth nearly enough. My plans mostly have to do with calendering and saving for retirement. My dreams mostly have to do with outdoor adventures and killing an elk. I’m not sinning when I do these things, but I’m also not appropriately prepping myself when I don’t plan for my eternal future. It is coming. It will be great. It will be forever and my faithfulness now will impact my eternity.
Resolved to treasure true treasures…
Relationships are important. But I have some regrets over not being more in touch with Denny and Chris for the past several years. I’m not beating myself up. We only have so much relational bandwidth. But I’m more prone to see the utilitarian nature of a person’s presence in my life than the transcendent value they have as an eternal child of God. I’ve lost some deep treasures in these two guys.
Resolved to work for things that bring reward…
For years we had a tradition of having Chris and his family over for a few days during Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful and rich time. And then my life got very complicated. So complicated that I preferred to have a more “peaceful” holiday without all the complexity. Maybe understandable for a year, but a mistake to fall out of the habit of a rewarding tradition. I’d give nearly anything to have another holiday with Chris and his family.
Resolved to practice Thanksgiving…
Since Denny was dying of cancer, I had ample time to thank him for all the deposits he made into me over the past 40 years. I also had ample time to thank Chris for how he made my life lighter and brighter. Unfortunately, I didn’t tell him that. I didn’t tell him how thankful I am for him being a good and consistent friend to me during my darkest days. I didn’t tell him how much I appreciate that he had a rare and respectful love for me. I didn’t tell him that some of my greatest memories were with him and for that I’m so thankful.
From this point forward, I’m going to make sure that if any more good soldiers go prematurely down, they will be laid to rest knowing how thankful I was for them.
Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday, it is a recalibration. Let’s enjoy it and let’s live it.
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