Living the Dash
By Phil Perkins
December 22, 2008
A few days ago a work friend of mine, only a couple of years older than me and still in the prime of life, was struck down by a massive heart attack. At the funeral service, much about his life outside the office was revealed, and it turns out that he had a richer life than many of us. Put another way, he made the most of the "dash" between the years on his tombstone. It's really a pity that so often, only at funeral services do many of us have the time to know who our friends really were.
If everything happens for a reason in God's good plan, then there must have been some heavenly discernable reason for my friend's sudden demise that most of us are too blind to see through our earthly eyes. Certainly a life cut suddenly short as his was will make us think about our own mortality and maybe view each day of life as more precious than we did before. We might also reflect on what a shame it was that we didn't get to know him or others like him better, so buried were we in our own busy-ness.
We live in a frenetically-paced culture where quick obsolescence and change are unfortunate facts of life. In a culture such as this, life itself can be devalued in many ways. Abortion and euthanasia are simply the extreme ends of the philosophy that says that life on earth does not have a high value. Most of us live somewhere short of those extremes, but not daring to care too much because what or who is here today may well be gone tomorrow.
As I've observed time and time again in the workplace, people are not wired to accept constant change as a fact of life. We want some stability, some assurance that the bedrock things we count on-faith, family, friends, jobs, and community-will be there for us when we need them. But the constant change that bombards us too often leads to relationships breaking apart. So, of course, does an over-reliance on the things of this world instead of a focus on the next and the One who cared so much for us that He came here in human form. Not only that, He was born in the humblest of circumstances, an out-of-wedlock child in the eyes of the world where, at that time, such a thing brought disgrace to a family. Yet those who saw past that and viewed Him as the King that He is were greatly rewarded with the joy that surpasses understanding; the joy that carried them (and us) through even the worst of trials.
At Christmas, it's so easy to get caught up in the material versus the spiritual. We worry about whether we've bought enough gifts; made enough food; visited the right people; attended the right parties; and, if we're not careful, all those things become the center of our Christmas thinking instead of the true reason. Maybe my friend's death, as untimely as it was in our eyes, was meant to be a wake-up call for those of us who knew him to start changing our priorities. Maybe on a larger scale, the harsh economic time we've been thrust into is a similar wake-up call that we cannot trust ultimately in the things of this world for our security and happiness.
It was touching that our small group leader at church arranged an "adopt-a-family" event to help a struggling family have a better Christmas this year. And that my new work group chose to do the same thing for another family. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have the resources to give, are commanded to do so by the One who came here to save us from our worst selves. And He commanded us to give because in His infinite wisdom He knew that giving, not receiving, is what brings ultimate joy and fulfillment into our lives.
To honor Christmastime and the priority of spending time with family and friends, we will not publish next week. Next year, we will pick up where we left off, with a greater sense of urgency than ever to get the truth out in a country where the truth is increasingly missing in a fog of deception and lies. But as we do that, we will keep in mind the Scripture from the Sermon on the Mount:Â "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt 6:34)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.