I finished writing Hidden Blessings a year ago. Yet, maybe more than any other book I’ve written, themes from this one have stayed with me. This may be the biggest—that time is short.
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” –James 4:14
In various ways, this truth has motivated me these past months. It has burdened me. And this past week, it grabbed me even tighter.
I received a text message about a friend named Carissa. I met Carissa and her husband on our trip to Israel in February. In fact, we were on the same plane out of Newark, though we didn’t meet until we landed in Tel Aviv. We hit it off right there in the airport, found out we were both married twenty years, both homeschoolers. Over the course of the trip, Carissa’s smile was ever present, her laughter infectious. And I loved that she took my finicky-eating son under her wing. When lunch one day consisted of pizza, and she learned he hadn’t eaten because he doesn’t like cheese, she dug into her bag, produced a chocolate Kind bar, and made him eat it. With a smile, of course.
We saw Carissa three weeks ago in Houston, when a few of us from the Israel trip attended a wedding. Afterward, our “Israel family” gathered at a Cracker Barrel, ate, and lingered in rocking chairs on the porch. Carissa was her usual bubbly self, full of smiles and laughter.
Then I got this text last week. It said Carissa had been diagnosed with cancer in her lungs, rib, and hip bones, and that it was inoperable—Stage IV. I stared at my phone. Surely it didn’t say what it said. I contacted Carissa directly, and tears welled when she confirmed. In her early forties with seven children (college-age down to preschool), she’d only gone to the doctor for chest pains. She was given a devastating diagnosis. (By the way, she has never smoked.)
Carissa and her husband love the Lord, and their faith is strong. Her husband posted this on Facebook when they got the news: “Our hope has always been in the Lord and remains securely there. He has always been faithful and will continue to be – it is His very nature – as is His mercy. His Name is worthy to be praised as the sun rises this morning.”
Carissa’s family and friends (including her Israel family) are praying, believing, asking God for mercy, healing, strength, grace, peace, and beyond. We know that no one has the final say but God, who numbers our days.
And in the midst of this, I am burdened all the more with that same thought . . .
Time is short. For us all.
If God Himself told me I only had a few months to live, what would I do with that time? How many conversations would I have with people about the Lord? How many would I tell that God so loved the world, He sent His only Son, so that we would not perish but have everlasting life? Would I fear rejection or persecution over sharing the truth of God’s Word, if I knew I didn’t have long? Would I people-please? Tarry in sin? Would I be more diligent about obeying the promptings of the Spirit?
How much small stuff would I sweat? How much would I worry? Would I be slow to forgive an offense? How many more “little” moments would I pause to enjoy? Or sunsets. Or gentle breezes. What kindnesses might I show a stranger?
Would I spend more time with the Lord, if I knew I would soon be in His very presence? Would His Word mean more? Would I feel an urgent sense of purpose?
However my focus would change if I knew my time on earth was short . . . that’s the focus I pray to have now. Because my time is short. Soon I will be in the presence of my Savior and Lord, in a glorious place that does not compare with this world. And I want to live accordingly, making the most of the days I’m given here.
How about you? How would your focus change if you knew you didn’t have long on this earth? Does James 4:14 motivate you to make any of those changes now?
P.S. Here is a picture of Carissa and her sixteen-year-old daughter from earlier this month at the wedding, before her diagnosis. I asked Carissa if I could post her story. She said, “Absolutely! Give God all the glory!” Would you please say a prayer for my dear friend and her family?