What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. – James 4:14
A couple of weeks ago I attended my 50-year high school reunion.
At the opening luncheon I enjoyed a long and animated conversation with an old classmate. At the party that evening I saw her again and said “Hi!” She looked surprised.
“Ann! You haven’t changed a bit!” she exclaimed.
I laughed. “You mean since the luncheon this afternoon?” She looked surprised.
“There was a luncheon this afternoon? Huh! I must have missed it.”
I was a little taken aback, but then realized we’re approaching that season where short-term memory loss can start. That was a little scary to me.
Equally scary was seeing a classmate walking with a cane, another who’d been brought from the nursing home where she’d lived for several years, and another who had lost her vision three years ago. There were a number of cancer survivors, one who had survived a brain aneurism, and numerous widows. This was not only scary, but deeply inspiring. In talking about their lives, where they had been, the adventures they had had (Old people have much better stories than young people.), every one of these ladies spoke with the same bubbly enthusiasm I remembered from school. We just looked different.
I didn’t realize how different until the slide show.
Grainy photos of innocent-looking kindergartners, mischievous grade school students, awkward middle schoolers, cocky high school girls ready to take on the world, and teachers no doubt long departed brought laughs and fond memories. Then snapshots of sports, plays, dances, graduations, weddings, babies, mothers-of-brides, grandchildren, and past reunions all flew by in a matter of less than an hour. At the end of the show, the lights came up and everyone cheered and applauded the photographer-classmate who had pulled it all together.
Even writing this now, I have tears in my eyes. Where did fifty years go? Was I the only one acutely aware of the brevity of our lives?
“Life is fleeting.” I know that’s a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason. Young people hear old people warn them that they will blink and be old, and the young people roll their eyes, mumble “Yeah,” and think, That’s what they always say. (At least I know that’s what I thought.)
Early the next evening, a group of us gathered to pay our respects to the classmates who had passed on. Beside the bench that was our class gift to the school was a concrete column displaying the names of departed classmates on small placards; someday it will have all of our names on it. I played the harp, we sang a hymn, a classmate gave a brief devotional, and we prayed in unison the “prayer for graduates” we had all memorized in school.
At the final party the next night, my peers and I were rocking out to the classic 60’s and 70’s songs played by fellow classmates’ retro band. (One 18-year-young man, there to help haul the sound equipment, stood looking amazed – and amused – at the stamina of these “old folks.”)
There seemed to have been two themes of the weekend:
I.) Age is not a deterrent! Even with disabilities that tend to come with aging, we can still live full lives, especially when dedicated to the One who created us and apparently isn’t finished with us yet. Even the gal with short-term memory loss was the life of the party. Aware of her impairment, she nevertheless enjoyed living in the moment, chatting and laughing with the rest of us. As I visited with the classmate who had lost her eyesight, we talked about our love of audiobooks and made recommendations to each other. Unbeknownst to her, she’s inspired me to stop procrastinating, get my novel Counselor off the shelf, and make it into an audiobook so she and others like her can enjoy it.
2.) Life is short! Time is short! There’s been a lot of talk lately among Christians about the “last days” and whether the end is coming soon. But for any one of us, the end could be today. As I read the names of the classmates on the pedestal by the bench, I knew some of them were believers in Jesus Christ and are now with Him. As for the others, I don’t know. As I wrote my page for our “second senior yearbook,” I was aware that reading my “letter to my younger self” might be the last chance some of these ladies have to know the gospel, put their faith in Jesus, and secure their places in heaven. I pray the Lord plants those words where they’re needed.
In case you missed it …
Don’t waste another moment. Whatever your age, if you don’t know Jesus, or you’re not sure, I urge you to get to know Him today! (Read the gospel of John in the Bible, especially chapter 3.) He holds the key to abundant life here and eternal life afterward. (“Afterward” is sooner than you think.)
Prayer: Lord, Your Word says our lives are a mist that quickly disappears. Teach us to make the most of our days, be assured of heaven, and take as many people along as we can, in Jesus’ name. Amen.