If you are in the world long enough, you begin to see it as so temporary. And that’s a God thing. One day two daughters came into our church office with strength and purpose. They ushered in an aura of sweetness as they tenderly addressed the details of their mother’s memorial service. My heavens, we loved their Mom, Darlene. She was one of our Friday party girls who collated the Sunday bulletins every week for at least the last ten years that I knew her. There is no doubt she was one of God’s favorites. She was a sainted angel whom I loved dearly with the wisdom of a great-grandmother who had seen it all. Darlene stirred the rest of the girls with a hearty laugh, calling us all kid as she planted a big kiss on you with the warmth of the sun. Man, my heart aches as I write this.
As her daughters planned out meticulously what their mom would have wanted for her memorial, a member came in like a breath of fresh air with a seven-week-old German shepherd puppy. Into my arms he snuggled under my chin where I savored his puppy breath and soft warmth. The dynamic between the two events happening simultaneously caught me off guard. Such harsh pain and sweet softness muted together. Life is so like that. God orchestrates it all.
Moments with the ones we love are so precious. As the staff mourned the loss of our sweet Darlene, we all wished for one more glance from her dancing eyes, one more hug and one more chance to say goodbye. It makes us realize how temporary everything is. Just like this morning when leaves fluttered and dropped under a frisky autumn wind. Sprouting so strong and vibrant in the spring, these same leaves have become dry and brittle as they flowed numerously to the ground to be returned to the soil.
But that is not the end for the leaves or our Darlene. The leaves become mulch and enrich the soil for future growth. Darlene enriched our lives and lives on with our God of mercy. This isn’t fairy tale stuff, folks. This is life. Jesus came, he died to redeem us and here is the promise he made, the one the daughters picked out for their Mom’s memorial cover: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may be where I am.” (Rev 19:19:1)
This in a nutshell is the gospel and good news. Our life isn’t just a passing into mulch. We impact the world and those around us. Like Darlene, are others finding a big warm hug and kiss filled with joy? Or are they finding a cranky monster? Is what we say life-giving? Do we really believe the promise of our Lord to come and get us when we die? For heaven’s sake, that’s why he came! “There is no greater love than when a man lays down his life.” That’s what Jesus said and that’s what he did. He came for you, for me, for Darlene and for humanity. And, he will take us home again. Time is fleeting, notice the leaves, kiss those dear ones and trust in the gospel of love because moments like these make us realize all the more that faith matters.