January 15, 2019

In a few short hours, my family and I will be attending the public visitation and funeral of my mother-in-law. As I was thinking about the day ahead—about the friends and family that will and will not attend; about how I was invited to present one of the gifts (turns out it’s part of the Catholic communion service, something this lifelong Protestant didn’t know); about being at the gravesite; and about the luncheon afterward, I realized I don’t really remember any part of my own mother’s funeral.

My mother’s funeral took place over ten years ago. What I remember, instead, are the months I spent with her at her bedside as she was dying, the many phone calls and the time spent talking when she was alive. I remember her sitting in the morning reading her Bible, and I remember that she consistently wrote letters to the many missionaries she supported. What I remember most is her life, not the ceremony memorializing her death.

And herein lies the blessing: My mother-in-law was granted the opportunity to live for 89 years. She was blessed with a life here on earth. My own mother was granted the opportunity to live for 59 years. We are all, for varying amounts of time, given the opportunity to live. And as the poem “The Dash” by Linda Ellis states, “what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.”

We are all blessed with life, and what matters in this life is what we choose to do with this blessing. I have chosen to follow Jesus. Sometimes I am not the best at doing this, but that’s part of the reason I want to acknowledge his blessings every day—to remind myself of the many, many reasons for serving him. To try to keep my eyes on him, rather than on the many distractions this life can bring. What will you do with your blessing of life?

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Josh. 24:15, NIV)