I don't want to sound pessimistic, depressed or negative. I'm going to try to make a point that is uplifting and challenging but I have to go a place or two before I get to my conclusion. I'm in relationships through our faith community in Monroe with several people who are in questionable health. Two are having issues with their hearts, a few have serious "aging" issues. The word for each of them is that "ever day is a blessing" and I know it. I see them weekly and I talk to them regularly. Every time I walk away from the conversation a little thought skips through my mind, "this might be the last time I see this dear person." And its true…in everyone of their physical cases is life threatening. Two are living day by day with heart valve issues that are inoperable. Others cannot be treated for the plethora of physical issues that they have. They simply live moment by moment.
The bible is pretty clear about the precious nature of life. It is one of those truths that in our complicated world and lives is easily ignored. Especially for those of us who are constantly envisioning the future…attempting to stay ahead of the crowd or curve…we have that tendency to believe that the miracle of today is one that can taken for granted. Why? Because there will always be another tomorrow. I believe that many of you know how this works…there are always evaluations and systems embraced that we believe keep our future prospects looking promising. We plan for retirement and vacations…we save money for future purchases and build relationships that have a "hope" for being all that we dreamed they could be. In other words, the specialness of today only has meaning because we have the guarentee of tomorrow.
And that is what brings me to my life in these moments. Since two days after Christmas Eve, Vicky and I have been in Colorado. What appeared at first to be a celebration to anticipate with family has become a scenario that many would call a horror story. My dad, all 77 years of him, had a complete physical meltdown. I walked into my sister's home to visit him for the weekend and within hours had him strapped into his car headed for the ER. Within 5 hours, he was on the way to the ICU…within one hour in the ICU we almost lost him to massive kidney failure, acididocious, heart failure, pulmonary distress and the list goes on. The ER doctor said he had never seen a person come into the ER with as many presenting issues. Within three days in ICU he almost died three times. And even as we sit in the hospital now (for over a week) it is a day to day battle. Every day has as its "general rule" a potential of my dad's lung "flashing with fluid" and taking his life.
I was sitting with my sister last night for a quick meal before returning to the ICU and she said something I cannot get out of my mind, "You know Rob, this might be the last time that we see dad; he could die any day." That's true, generally speaking, for all of us. In his case though, it is a harsh reality. To say that that statement stuck with me for the night would be an understatement. I thought of the many relationships that I have and cherish where that scenario is reality. No, not in a crisis sense vis a vi my dad. Rather on a general basis…why? Because we live in an unpredictable world. Yet, there is something else that rolled around my heart for a while that simply has to be shared. My relationship with my dad has changed…there's an urgency and specialness to moments we share. Comments and conversations don't have to be deep or life changing because moments and minutes are special. And what's just as true is that the need to be contentious or spoil the moments with self-centered idiocy or ridiculous hostility or petty narcissistically driven demands are not just pushed to the sideline but, frankly, have no right stealing the precious nature of the relationship in the NOW.
So I thought, what if…what if we attempted to live in all our relationships (routine, family, or otherwise) as if those moments might be the last? Would that make a difference? I can't believe that it wouldn't make a difference (how's that for a double negative!). I would be much more apt to move on and away from pettiness. I would be much more apt to ignore hurtful comments and not dwell on them because of their toxic nature that spoils life's joy. I would be less sensitive to the decisions that other's make that appear to be purposely aimed at hurting my feelings. And grudges, what's the point unless I really want to destroy the preciousness of what could be ripped out of my hands and heart at a moment's notice (or even without notice).
Here's a challenge – how about it? Today, live your life in relationship as if it might be the last time you see that spouse, friend, family member, mom, or team member at work. Do you cherish that relationship? Then live as you do. What would your life be like if that relationship were NOT in your life? And if you think, "wow, that question makes me uncomfortable" then let that feeling activate you and move your participation in that relationship to something healing. Let all your relationships be marked with grace, redemption, mercy, and understanding (OR as someone by the name of Paul wrote, "let all your life be known for its love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness and self-control"). I think I'm going to just do that…