Thursday and Friday of each week are typically designated as “bulletin days.” Other things are done but completing the bulletin is big on the list. The bulletin is a highly coordinated effort that starts with Betty Hall, then it gets sent to me for editing, creative filling, an article or two and then goes back to Betty for printing and folding. This process goes on despite the challenges of holidays. Even Thanksgiving.
While sorting through some old papers this week, I found a bulletin article I had written some fifteen years ago. It spoke of my grandparents and their four children. My dad was the youngest of those four and over the years he preached the funeral messages for his own father, his oldest brother and his only sister. That article from long ago was written two days before he was to do the funeral for his last brother, my Uncle Guy.
I had written my article early and then flown out to Texas to be able to drive with my mom and dad to where my uncle was going to be buried. After the funeral on Saturday I knew it would be a long ride home for reasons reaching beyond the miles. I wanted to be with Dad because I knew these were important life changing events. What we didn’t know then was that just four years down the road there was going to be a pair of losses much more difficult to endure.
Some of you reading this could share your own stories of unexpected loss. One of the big mistakes that many of us make in life is to believe that we will have the chance to repeat today. We celebrate a birthday of our own or a loved one and we sing “and many more” fully expecting it to be true. We gather for Thanksgiving or Christmas with our family, fondly sharing the day, and we confidently expect to do it again next year. But we may not. If there is one lesson to be learned from 2020 it is that many of the things we count on and expect to occur again and again may not happen and things we never imagined in a million years could ever happen may happen. That’s real life.
Hebrews urges us to make sure we encourage each other while it is still called “today” (Heb. 3:13). James warns that while we often boast about what we will do “today or tomorrow” (4:13-14) we don’t know what will happen tomorrow or whether we will even have a tomorrow. Live and enjoy today! We only have today. Reading the words I wrote then still gives me pause, knowing the events that were approaching . It reminds me again that we don’t have the slightest idea what our future holds. Which also means we must make sure we are right today with Him who holds our future.
- Tim Orbison