I had a wake up call recently, to live in the moment. You know, stay in touch with people, listen to the person you’re talking with, make that call. I’ve had to plan for the future in my work and personal life for years, as most people do. Living in the moment is easily lost in our busyness. You understand.
Recently, my wife, Mary, was updating our address book. Occasionally, she’d ask if I would check the Internet for an address that looked outdated. You know the process. Type a name and up pops several people with that name. Dig a little, see a spouse’s or child’s name, and you have the right person. There’s their address, maybe a phone number and email. It’s great. I was looking for a couple we’d not seen for years, but they had touched our lives and it was good. Our times were brief with them, but we enjoyed their company. They had been American Baptist International missionaries. At one time they served a church not far from where we served. We wanted to stay in touch, at least through Christmas letters. Things got in the way, and we hadn’t sent a Christmas letter for four years. We lost track of them.
I typed in their names, expecting Google to find their address. Instead, up pops an obituary for Jim! What? Where’s Gayle? Another search . . . another obituary. Both, gone! I stared at the screen in disbelief. They were our age. I asked Mary to come to my Study. It was sobering. I couldn’t get them off my mind the rest of the evening. Awakened in the night, I thought about them. My first thought the next morning was Jim and Gayle. I was grieving.
We can’t stay on the path of everyone who touches our lives. Here I’m thinking of minimal contact – a Christmas letter for goodness sake – to know what’s happening with people who’ve graced our lives. But what am I doing in this moment to connect to those I love and care about?
I thought of a song the Gaither’s made famous: “We Have This Moment.”
“We have this moment to hold in our hands
And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand
Yesterdays gone and tomorrow may never come
But we have this moment today.”
This moment. It’s a weighty thought. How do people important to us slip off our radar? We know. That project needs finishing, the bills need to be paid, I need to attend that school program, that committee meeting, write that paper. We drop into bed exhausted. Before we drift off we may think, “I need to write him a note, send her an email, give them a call, set a time for us to have lunch together. The to-do list expands while valuable people are slighted.
I often think of the last time my dad asked me to go fishing with him. I told him I had so much to do and couldn’t. I didn’t know it would be the last time. That memory is so painful. How do we forget that important times can be gone forever, in this life?
This sign in my son-in-law’s office caught my eye: “So often we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to enjoy the journey.” Then I stepped into the next room to stare at a similar message: “Nobody can go back and start a new BEGINNING, but ANYONE can start today and make a new ENDING.”
God wanted me to get it . . . again. Because I need reminders. Maybe you do too. Be a good planner. Be prepared. But don’t let the next thing you need to do get in the way of who’s right in front of you.