On my way in to work this morning, I was driving behind a big truck with three wooden pallets strapped to its roof. They were wobbling in the wind, and the thought occurred to me that the pallets could fly off at any moment and crash into my windshield. My imagination went to the worst case scenario, and I thought, “Wow. What if today was the day I died?”
My first reaction to that was a sense of joyful peace: I would get to be with Jesus today! Then before even two heartbeats could pass, my mind locked onto the image of my children’s faces. I thought: Jesus, not today. Ages five and eight are too young for my babies to say goodbye to their mommy. What would they remember of me after knowing me for such a short time?
If I were to die today, have I taught my children enough about their Father to sustain them until they might meet me again?
While I know my daughter was baptized this past summer, I worry that a huge loss in her life might cause her to turn from God, the same way I did when my brother died. And yet, I know my turning away wasn’t permanent. I know the Bible tells us that once we are God’s, nothing can change that. So I rest and trust in that.
Still, I wonder what she would remember of me if this morning marked the last time she ever saw me alive. Would she remember the way I wake her before school, lying beside her and holding her in my arms? Or will she think of my sighs and short temper I had last night when she spilled in the kitchen and then grumped at me for asking her to take a shower? And, God forbid, will she somehow equate her bad attitude with the reason I died? (I have a friend whose dad died in high school from a heart attack. She loved him, and he loved her. But their last conversation was an argument, so she spent years thinking the argument raised his blood pressure and stressed his heart to death.)
What will Jackson remember of me? Laughter and cuddle time in the morning, when I force him to lay with me until the timer on my phone dings? (He’d much rather be up bouncing around already.) How vague and unformed would his memories of me be after getting just five years of life overlapping with mine? Years from now, would he smell my body spray and have some slight memory where it could have come from?
How do I make an investment in their lives today that will last until their last breaths?
Because in the midst of busy life and all the tasks that pepper my days, the Kingdom of God – and our eternity with Him – should always be the first priority on my list. It doesn’t matter one bit whether I got the laundry done or dinner made or replied to all the emails in my In Box if I haven’t done something for His Kingdom today. And the best way I know to build His Kingdom is to start in my little home with the lives He entrusted to me.
There was a day when I would have worried about an additional person in this mix. I would have worried about seeing Dan again, after my death. The beautiful thing that struck me this morning (Yes, in the midst of such morbid thoughts, there was rejoicing!) was the realization that my husband is going to join me after death. What a gift I can never repay to my Father!
And, no, I don’t believe just so I can get the eternal reward of Heaven. In my earlier years of life, that was the big carrot that dangled in front of me, and the reason for my need to check off the religious boxes on my To Do List of Life. The childish bargains I made with God have fallen away: IF I believe, then You will let me in the gates, right? They were replaced with a soul-deep awe of His grace for me as I finally understood that He wants me home with Him regardless of what I check off the list or what the “If/Then” pieces of the bargain entail. With Jesus, there is no “If/Then”: there’s just BECAUSE.
BECAUSE God is my Father, He wants me home with Him.
Jesus, help me to teach my children about your BECAUSE so one day they can share in the awe and joy of your grace. Show me how to love them in a way that points to You every single day. Amen.