Yesterday I was privileged to spend some time honoring the passing of a special friend, along with hundreds of others who considered her the same. In my “calling” this is a fairly common occurrence. I usually don’t know the one who’s passed as well as my “yesterday” friend. I rarely contemplate as deeply as those who are remembering. I rarely have the memories or stories that the others have. Yesterday was a bit different. I was engaged, I was contemplative. This was a friend who I loved, admired and respected. I was connected to her life and she was connected in mine. This was one of those rare occasions that my family was joined in remembrance of someone who influenced and loved all of us. We are who we are and where we are, in part, because of her involvement in our lives. So yesterday, we sat, and we contemplated, and cried a bit in the company of others who could claim the same. Today is not yesterday though, and my life has, all too obviously to me, gone on.
I’m back in my space. I’m back in my routine. I’m back to looking ahead and running from behind. So I wonder more today than I wondered yesterday, what is the meaning of life? I know all about, and hold closely within my being, the hope of greater beyond the gates. I know that she was promised that, and she lived every moment to claim that same promise. I barely paused to reflect before getting right back on it, my task I mean. The question though has become “What is my task?” Is it that urgent that I get right back after it without so much as a few hours contemplating? Do we all gather inward for a bit, remember, and then turn back outwards again in pursuit of whatever carrot lay before us? It’s a kind of “Go back to your lives citizens, there’s no more to see here”, reflection and then all of our ADHD selves are off and running again. We spend our lives either running for or running from. I’m not really sure which is more beneficial and which is more destructive.
Let me be honest for a moment. I want to make a difference. I want to make my mark. My friend certainly did. She made hers with endless energy. I guess that you could call it running. She ran until she was running on empty and the physical just couldn’t do any more. I have no doubt that the first thing she heard after the last breath that she took was “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That would be an understatement for her life, but considering who would be saying it to her, it’s pretty impressive all the same. I want to hear that when I’ve breathed my last and then my first. I’m running, but I have to be honest. I’m not always sure if I’m running with or running from.
In my “pastoral arts” calling I read quite a bit on leadership principles. I really want to run with the others in my life. But I’m haunted by the fact that all of my readings say very clearly that, in moving your influence forward, if no one is going with you, you are merely taking a walk. An honest evaluation of my life tells me that I have left a good many behind. I’ve run ahead and away. I tell myself that life goes on and so does my mission, but lately I’ve realized a very distinct truth. Objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear. That’s fortunate for me. I had gotten to the point where I believed that they were so far behind that it would be pointless to go back. They’re closer though. I believe I’ll wait a bit. I may even turn back some.
That’s where the tension for me becomes a great struggle. How can I wait when there’s so much left to do? How can I go back when there are so many still in my future? What will leave more of a mark, more influences or deeper influences? I’m not capable of making that decision myself. Interestingly enough though, as I was engaged in studying a passage in the “Book of Books” last night with a group of LIFE friends, it was made clear to all of us that Paul was content to make deeper influences with the circumstances he was given. That’s a directive to me I guess. After all, he was the one who wrote all of that “running the race” stuff about God’s desire for all of our lives. No one wanted to have an ever farther reaching influence more than he did. And yet, when he was stopped by chains, he didn’t get all ADHD in his circumstance. He was content and went deeper with what he had. Maybe that’s the answer. I’m starting to have a Forrest Gump in the desert moment. I’m tired of running. Maybe it’s time to go home now. Maybe it’s time to rest in Him and be content. May I should wait a bit for those in my mirror that are closer than they appear. The “yesterday” moments that my family and I share remind me that someday, somewhere, someone will reflect on my life. I hope that they will remember me walking with them and not merely passing them by on the way to somewhere else.