As today approached as the one year anniversary of Sarah’s homegoing, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on all that has transpired since then. Somebody once said that funerals should compel us to ponder our own mortality and evaluate not only the days we’ve lived – but also the time we have left. In that way, my reflection on today continues to be a gift that keeps on giving for its powerful ongoing impact in my life. I prayed then as I continue now that I would not forget the things that I have learned.
Solomon also wrote about the importance of being reminded of death in Ecclesiastes 7:2 where he says the countercultural concept that it is better to go to a funeral than a party because the wise person will be reminded that “this is the end of all mankind” and will live in light of the brevity of life. When people hear my story now who didn’t know me or Sarah before, the one comment frequently heard among most of them is “oh, she was so young.” Yet even in that statement is the ultimate undergirding reality that everyone is expected to die, just not yet.
So why is it that most of us, myself included even a few times this year, forget to live in light of the fundamental fact that for each of us here, our time on earth is finite? A big part is that we are forgetful. We get distracted by the busyness of life and that naturally, and often by necessity, forces our focus to be on the short-term, the present. Throughout the entire Bible, God is constantly giving commands and instructing His people to remember through intentional actions and tangible reminders. He told us that because we are prone to forget. I am prone to forget. Even on a day like today laden with meaning, I still have to be intentional to stop and take time to reflect and think.
When I think about Sarah, I rejoice knowing she is experiencing the glorious joy of unity with her Savior, freed from the curse of sin and the pain of this world. In a good way, that makes me jealous to one day also experience that. That too then reminds me to focus on today and live in light of eternity. To better invest in my walk with God, my relationships with family and friends, and to remember that my days on earth are limited as well.
Today is also a day of rejoicing for another reason as it is my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary! Their testimony of faithfulness and enduring love over the years speaks to the grace of God and the hard work they’ve put in to not only stay married this long, but to deepen their love. I’ve been teasing them a little bit this year that they’re acting a bit like newlyweds as they’re now in the phase of no longer taking of either their children (having all left home now) or their parents (as all my grandparents are now deceased). For those with a spouse, each day together is a gift to be treasured. Whether that is the five years that Sarah and I shared or the thirty-five that my parents have been blessed with, never take it for granted. Invest in each other with eternity in mind in preparation for the ultimate marriage of Christ to His bride, the Church!
The best part of today though is the steady comfort, encouragement, and loving ear that Anna has been for me both in the days leading up to today, but also in the moments of emotion throughout. God’s gift to me in bringing Anna in my life staggers my imagination still because she is exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. She is the glue that has filled in all the cracks of my heart making it better and stronger than it was before!
As I expectantly and excitedly look ahead to our upcoming wedding this November, I realize both the amazing joy and the solemn responsibility it will bring. Having been married before, this was a step I do not take lightly in full recognition of the depth of wedding vows: “for better or worse, in sickness, until death.” Those need not be sad things though they are heavy concepts. Indeed, for Christ’s example is as a husband who will never, ever forsake His bride, the Church. In that way it is inspiring and transformative!
I wrote at length in the story of how God brought Anna and I together this year the beautiful and creative way that He worked, and I see that ever more clearly day by day with her. On a day like today when I could otherwise be overcome with grief thinking of the future, I instead feel the upwelling of joy that comes from imagining the future life that Anna and I will share together! God has turned my mourning into joy and given both peace and hope beyond measure! I could never have imagined all that has transpired this past year culminating in the beautiful and thrilling next chapter with Anna, and so in yet another countless way, I see and trust in God’s hand at work!
“But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7–12