Saturday, October 30, 2010

Seasons: How to Live a Life That's Not Meaningless

My friend Jill's mom died last week, and Duane and I attended the funeral yesterday afternoon.  We're getting older; our parents are getting older.  It's a strange thing because we don't actually feel older, and we don't think our parents are getting older either. We don't think they will die, and yet both Duane and I lost our fathers about three years ago.  

It's part of life.  

Solomon put it this way:  There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die . . . 

And so we gathered together to say goodbye to a woman I've never met.  A woman who lived and loved, who laughed and sang and cried, who celebrated life and experienced disappointments.  

I think it says a lot about Jill's mom that Jill visited her nearly every day in the nursing home, even the days her mom didn't really know she was there.  

Jill's mom and dad moved to San Diego in 1976, when they were about 50 years old.  Shortly before, two sons became "Jesus people," and shortly after that Jill's mom and dad began their own relationship with Christ.  Jill was next, and finally the last daughter gave her life to Christ.  

Today all four children and their children serve God. One son is a pastor.  A grandson serves with his guitar and his voice.  Jill's dad is the chaplain in the nursing home where his wife lived.  In one way or another, they all give their lives away.  

Jill is one of those people I can always count on to pray for me.  She never judges.  She can see when I'm sad or disappointed or struggling.  And she stops to ask.  And then she prays for me right away.  She encourages. She loves unconditionally.  She serves faithfully.  She never complains.  

Once I asked Jill why she went to see her mom everyday.  I knew she was exhausted, working all day long, leading two life groups with her husband, and encouraging multiple young wives.  She told me her mother had encouraged her so much growing up that she wanted to give back. 

Solomon claims that life is meaningless, but I don't think anyone who knew Jill's mom would say that her life lacked meaning.  

And so I put forth this suggestion:  Our lives gain significance and meaning when we give them away in the name of Jesus.  

Jesus put it this way:  "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?" (Luke 9:23:25)

The legacy of Jill's mom continues, through the people whose lives she touched.  And now she spends her days with Jesus.  

None of us will live forever.  We're only here for a season, and we want our season to matter.  We can chase after the wind, as Solomon says, trying to find something that matters for eternity, or we can give our lives away.

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