This is Pastor Tim’s article that appeared in The Evening Leader on Monday, Nov 4, 2019.
November 1 was last Friday and is known as All Saints Day, a day we commemorate all of the people who have passed away this past year. This important day is an annual reminder that we are both the product of the preceding generations and we are also building a world for future generations. We are the stewards of God’s earth right now and need to do what we can to make a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren. We may not agree on what it will take to make the world a better place, but we don’t have to agree to know it is important to value our world and our communities in meaningful ways. That is why respect and listening are so very important.
I have been blessed to work with Miller Funeral Home for several funerals during my time in St Marys. Since July 1, 2018, I have officiated 46 funerals, the vast majority of which have been with Miller’s. I don’t know if anyone wants to know that I enjoy working with those guys, and the reason you may not want to know that is because no one likes the minister and the funeral director talking. That usually means that something bad has happened. I hesitate to say I enjoy working with them, but I have found the crew over there to be excellent to work with. We have walked through a number of difficult services together.
I know that death is not a topic that anyone wants to address for obvious reasons, but death is a natural and normal part of life. We cannot live without recognizing that death is a reality in our world. We don’t need to dwell on it, but at the same time we don’t need to ignore it either. It is a painful reality that nobody wants to face, but it is an experience that all of us are going to have.
What I want you to take from this extremely uplifting article is that what we have right now today is life. Death is real, but life isn’t about waiting for death to take us. God has asked us to live this life, which is why He gave it to us in the first place. He gave us a whole world to explore and enjoy and care for, He gave us family and friends to love and to cherish, and He has given us the ability to leave a positive mark on this world while we are here. My friends, this is a tremendous gift – a gift we need to not take lightly.
I have an app on my phone and it has been there for years. It is counting down the days until July 1, 2047. That is the date of the new conference year of the year I turn 72. That is the day that I will become old enough for mandatory retirement in the United Methodist Church. I live my life today because I want to make it to that age still serving God’s people effectively. I am living my life today as though I will be strong enough on that day to fight off the wave of people who come to drag me away. I have no guarantee that will happen because I know better than most people how much everything can change in the blink of an eye. But that doesn’t stop me from doing all I can to get the most out of life today. That is what spending so much time in the company of death has done for me – it has given me a great appreciation of life. I actively look for meaningful things to invest the precious time I have so that, when I fall into bed at the end of the day, I know I have gotten my 18 hours’ worth.
It breaks my heart to see people lose perspective on life – to watch parents miss stuff their kids are doing because they are on their phones, to see teenagers waste hours and hours playing video games, and to see people who allow their lives become about an addiction. They are squandering away the gift that God gave them.
I love the Bible, but I want to quote to you from another modern-day philosopher, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This is a principle I live by and I am paraphrasing this quote because this is a family newspaper. “When you walk up to opportunity’s door, don’t knock it. Kick the door in, smile and introduce yourself.”
That is exactly what I intend to do every day for the next 10,101 days.