I stayed in a house with this friend and his family five years in a row over the long Easter weekend, while we went to Katoomba Easter Convention, though that was some years back now. He was a RAAF pilot who gave up that high-flying career to study theology and then plant a church in the town where the RAAF training base is located. He was dedicated to sharing the gospel any place and time he could. He had a wife and four young children. Early last year he was diagnosed with a form a leukemia, which was considered quite treatable; the chemotherapy and transplant had gone well and he was talking about going home. Then there was a fever and suddenly he was gone. The shock and the sadness is everywhere.
When someone like this friend dies early and unexpectedly, I sometimes ponder whether, if we are here on earth to become more like Jesus and join his mission of sharing the gospel, then some people go on early because they are ready – in which case I’ll be here till I’m 150 – but I know that formula doesn’t actually apply. Other times I wonder if God just looks down on us and shakes his head and smiles at the way we beg for ourselves and others to stay down here, as though we have no idea what he has in store, but I know he understands what it’s like to be human, how hard it can be for those left behind, and that he experienced grief. And when someone like this friend dies, I can’t help wondering why I am allowed to live (unless the first scenario applies!), but I know our walk with God here is not all about our doings, good and important and right as they are, and we simply have no comprehension of his ways or the plans he is working out.
So, that was a sobering beginning to the new year. Also a timely reminder of how it's worth spending it.
But, I still went to IKEA and bought the things and played around in my house. (I’ve had so many DIY and painting and sorting projects going and half done that the house was an absolute disaster. Today I decided I needed to begin the clean up and just finish what was started or I would be going back to work on Monday in chaos.) They say we should live like each day is our last. But that is hard. I wonder if perhaps it’s hard spiritually because it’s also hard practically – we don’t even grocery shop like it’s our last day. Still, when these things happen you feel like you want them to make a difference, though that can be hard to measure.
I did go out to Koorong this week and buy New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp. I have benefitted a lot from Paul Tripp’s books in the past, so decided I wanted to read through this book this year. It’s not something I want to substitute for bible reading, but I am looking forward to the soul prompts. In the introduction he writes this:
So this devotional is a call for you and me to remember. It’s a call to remember the horrible disaster of sin. It’s a call to remember Jesus, who stood in our place. It’s a call to remember the righteousness that is his gift. It’s a call to remember the transforming power of the grace you and I couldn’t have earned. It’s a call to remember the destiny that is guaranteed to all of God’s blood-purchased children. It’s a call to remember his sovereignty and his glory. It’s a call to remember that remembering is spiritual war; even for this we need grace.May that be so this year.