“Life is short.” We’ve all heard the expression, but when the message unexpectedly appeared before her eyes, it was nothing short of a divine encounter. As my dear friend Susan reached into her mother’s purse, these words jumped off the notecard tucked inside. She recognized the handwriting immediately.
As she continued to read, emotions overcame her. Her beloved mom, who she affectionately referred to as “Moosie,” had just passed away. Now Susan stood alone in her parents’ hallway grasping not only Moosie’s purse but her handwritten message carefully placed within the inside pocket. Tears flowed as Susan read it again, “Life is short. And we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel our way with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind."
“We do not have much time.” We never know when our time will end on this earth. Moosie didn’t. Two nights earlier, she had gone to sleep curled up next to her beloved “Moon,” her husband of 62 years. She didn’t wake up. Even as I type these words it’s hard to comprehend. How do you spend a lifetime together and then suddenly you’re on your own? No warning, symptom, or illness. The next week another close friend’s mom died suddenly. Shock again. And by now we have all heard about the helicopter crash that left the world in disbelief.
There are no easy answers. Sometimes these unexpected endings are too abrupt to even conjure up words. But for those of us who believe in a life after this one, there is something and someone to cling to – the hope found in Jesus Christ. We know that this life is not all there is. God’s Word assures us. His presence confirms it. Throughout our grief and sadness, God shows up in unexpected ways. Susan experienced this as she clung to Moosie’s notecard. God was with her in that tender moment to assure her that He was there even though her beloved mom was not.
No one knows how long Moosie kept that card in her purse, but she put it there for a reason. It was an important reminder of how we should all live our limited time here on earth. Life is indeed short. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. This moment is what we have – and what we do or don’t do with it matters. So love each other and be kind. It’s simple but sometimes not easy. It’s a message that Moosie not only carried with her but lived every day.
When life brings us unexpected loss, God is there whether we recognize His presence or not. Sometimes unexpected death ushers in an unexpected awareness. God is with us wherever we go – especially in the depths of our despair. We are never alone.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)