As I saw the news come through on my Instagram feed I couldn’t believe it. Was I really reading this correctly? Did this sweet momma and several family members really die in a house fire the night before? What devastating news.
I met Mandy at a conference a year and a half ago and I while I never personally got to know her I have enjoyed reading her blog posts and social media posts. I remember feeling so happy for her last year when their family adopted a baby boy. Her smile in the photos she posted was joyfully radiant. I remember her love for her family shining through in all she wrote. And mostly I remember her by her love for Jesus. She accepted Him as Lord and Savior and loved Him with her whole heart. It came through loud and clear in all she said and did. She loved Him and in turn loved others.
And then her time on earth abruptly came to an end this week, along with her husband and two youngest children. At a time when she and everyone around her least expected it. There was no warning. No opportunity for goodbyes. That’s how it happens sometimes.
That’s how it happened for my sister. I remember the feeling of shock when learning of my sister’s unexpected passing 8 1/2 years ago. It felt like it couldn’t possibly be true. But it was. I think we often imagine that we will live to be old and gray. We think we’ll get sick when we are old and then have time to say our goodbyes. We’ll have time to change our priorities and how we spend our time. But that’s not always how it goes.
Sometimes the unexpected happens. There is no guarantee of more time for us on earth. Today could be your last day. It could be my last day.
When I think about this, I have to ask myself if I’ve spent my time well.
One of the things that I have learned through the experience of losing my sister unexpectedly is to always keep the end in mind. It sounds somewhat morbid but it’s actually a helpful way to stay focused on what matters. I have a tendency to follow lots of bright shiny things that seems like good ideas and then my priorities get out of whack. And then I feel stressed, unfocused, overwhelmed and I don’t have time for the things that matter most to me.
For me, Jesus matters. Loving other people matters. Serving my family matters. Seeking Truth. Being thankful. Giving. Those things matter to me. So, when I get wrapped up in things that don’t matter, the Lord lovingly nudges me to lift my head up and stop focusing on the unimportant. Thankfully, I can come before Him and ask for His help so I can make adjustments to my thought process, my priorities and how I spend my time.
Do you spend your time doing the things that are most important to you? If you do, that’s wonderful! If not, you can always start today.
As we are reminded of the uncertainty of tomorrow, shower your children with love. Snuggle them, hold them close, but don’t stop there. Go out and love other people together. There are so many people in this world who need our love. People in need who could use our help and our prayers. Accept Christ’s love and redemptive work on the cross and share it with those desperate for hope. Give your time. Be of service. Share what you you’ve learned. Ask people how they are doing and take the time to listen to their response. Look into their eyes when they are talking to you. Be thankful for all God has blessed you with. Forgive. Live well. Love well. End well.
Mandy lived, loved and ended well and the Lord is glorified through her ministry. Her work here is done but she has left us all with so much and for that I am thankful. Sadly, two of her children have been left behind as they survived the horrific fire and are now left without their parents and two siblings. I ask that you join me in praying for His peace to surround and comfort them, especially today as they attend the funeral service.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14