When Your Past Looms Longer than Your Future
Debra Coleman Jeter
When my grandfather lay dying of pancreatic cancer, he remarked that he could remember his entire life in the space of a few minutes. But could he really? Of course not, but I don’t doubt that all he could remember just then took only a few minutes. Granted, he was only sixty, younger than I am now. Years later, my aunt, who died of lung cancer at about the same age, made a similar statement the last time I saw her. “Our life here really is just a vapor,” she said. I believe she was quoting James 4:14:
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. ESV
Last night my husband and I watched a television show in which a man kept re-watching videos of his late wife and of their life together. I commented that though we have loads of photos, we have very few videos of ourselves, which might be for the best.
If you’re blessed, as I am, to have spouse, parents, and children and grandchildren still in your life, we should be so thankful. If we have lost loved ones, we should cherish the memory of having had them in our life.
Yet, I believe God wants us to live in the present. Remember when David grieved his dying child and pleaded with God to spare him? When the child died, however, he dressed and ate and moved forward. When questioned, David said: “…But now that the baby is dead, why should I fast? I can’t bring him back to life. Someday I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.” 2 Samuel 12: 23 NCV
I know moving forward is not that easy. Perhaps my greatest fear is of the loss of my loved ones, and particularly at an age that feels premature to me, when they have not lived as long as I hope they will. But we cannot fully live our lives as we should if we’re too busy looking back or dreading what lies ahead.
I sit and look out this morning at a calm silvery sea with the sunlight peeking through the clouds, and I think what a glorious world we live in and what a blessing today truly is. As we read in Psalm 118: 24: This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (NKJV).