Daily D – Psalm 90:12
Teach us the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. PSALM 90:12 (NLT)
Today my bride and I will take a long drive through familiar territory. We live and work in a place that is deeply meaningful to us. My office shares a parking lot with the institution where I earned two advanced degrees. Our daughter graduated from law school on that campus. So many good memories are associated with those hallowed grounds.
Our drive will take us north by northwest to a small town that was once our home. Along the way, we will pass through another small town on a hill where you can see for miles and miles. It was there where a doctor and his family took in an orphaned Indian girl. (No one called them Native Americans in those days.) That little girl was my great-grandmother. I would not be here had it not been for the kindness of that family.
My great-grandmother had two sons who went to work in the Nocona boot factory. That is where I served as pastor a generation ago. That is where our son started school and where our daughter was born. We made many good friends there. The superintendent of schools was chairman of the search committee. He left Nocona and served in the same position at Birdville Independent School District that my wife serves in now. Small world. He made his retirement home near the highway we will drive today. He passed away a couple of months ago.
Driving through Nocona this week brought a flood of memories. Every location holds its own story. Some of those are worth remembering and telling. Others are better forgotten. Among the best memories of all include Marvi, Terry Don, Ryan, and Terah.
Marvi was the church secretary. She was efficient and effective, wise and wonderful. She spoiled me. She was good at everything she did. One summer we made our annual trek to Glorieta near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I forgot to write my newsletter column. (This was before the days of laptops and internets). I called and asked her if she could write something to fill the space. I gave her a couple of hints of what to say. When I returned home, I was shocked, amazed, and delighted. My column sounded exactly like something I would write. I’m telling you, she is good.
The assistants in the next church I served did not think as highly of Marvi as did I. They would ask how I wanted to do this or that or whatever. My reply was, “I don’t know. Marvi took care of that.” And so the taunt, “Marvelous Marvi,” was born.
The first time I saw Terah, she was the cutest little blonde-haired girl you ever saw hiding behind her mother. She was quiet and shy and beautiful. Ryan was all boy and always on the go. Sitting still was not something he did well. He had an active mind and a twitchy disposition. They are wonderful adults now. Seeing them at the funeral home last night as they mingled and talked with family and dear friends, I couldn’t help but smile.
Terry Don passed away this week after a two-year battle with Leukemia. We had lots of long talks over the last couple of years in one hospital and then another. He loved the outdoors, tinkering, repairing, rebuilding, and making beautiful things for those he loved most. He’s the man his sister-in-law called when she found a snake in the house. He’s the man everyone called when they did not know what to do next. He’s the man who would drop everything to help anyone. He’s the man who rescued people in life-threatening situations on more than one occasion.
Today we will remember. We will grieve. We will laugh and cry and sigh. We will embrace the truth of Moses’ words from millennia past, “Teach us the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Another translation puts it this way: “Teach us to number our days.” We do not any of us know how many days we have left. But we do know, most of us, about how many have passed. We know if we are closer to the beginning or the end of a person’s life expectancy. Funerals remind us to check in and see how we are doing regarding what ultimately matters. A person has only so many Saturdays in his or her life. How will you remember this one?
Today we will gather with family and friends and look around. Probably nothing is ideal at the moment, but things could be, and have been, worse. Today we will remember. Today we will take stock. Today we will make the kinds of commitments that lead us to lean into our unknown futures with faith and confidence. We are not the first to walk this path. We are not the last. We gratefully acknowledge that God is with us leading every step all the way home.
This is a sad day in so many ways. And yet it is a day full of hope and beautiful reminders that all of this stuff we call life is leading somewhere, somewhere we can all get together one day and remember through the lens of eternal renewal. It is a place where we have it on good authority that there are no more tears, no more goodbyes. Heaven is a long hello.
I will grow in wisdom today as I count the days.
Our Father, here we are on another day when time seems to stand still. There is hurry and busy-ness around us, but for us all things appear to move in slow motion. Remind us of your presence today. Comfort us in our deep loss. Teach us the lessons of this moment. Prepare us for the journey ahead. Store in our minds the wonderful memories which make life meaningful. Capture every tear in your bottle. Heal every hurting heart. Amen.
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1 Chronicles 22:9-13 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’ “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”