loose ends ...

In the weeks leading up to 12/21/12, there was “buzz” about the Mayan
calendar predicting the end of the world. People made jokes, people
planned parties, people thought about what they would do if it really
was their last day to live. People did what they could to tie up
their “loose ends” just in case tomorrow didn’t come . . . but it did.

According to the Bible, in Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32, “But about that
day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,
but only the Father.”

I was not fearful on December 21 because I didn’t believe the Mayan
predictions, but I also wasn’t fearful because whether December 21 or
any other day is my last day to live, I know where I am going! Even
though I rest in that knowledge, it made me stop and think, do I live
as if each breath could be my last? I know, that for me, the answer
to that question, sadly, is no, I do not live as if each moment could
be my last. How DIFFERENT would my life be, would all of our lives
be, if we lived each day as if it were December 20, and we KNEW that
it would all end on December 21? Would we be kinder? Would we give
more? Would we love more? Would the “unimportant” have any
importance (the messy kitchen, the undone laundry, the not taken out
garbage, the sharp word that wounded us years ago that we just can’t
forgive someone for, the unkind deed we did to someone, the pain we
inflicted upon others, or had inflicted upon us . . . )? Would we
make sure to give that hug, that smile, that word of encouragement?
Would we mend those relationships that need mending? Would we say
that “I’m sorry” that needs saying? Would we make sure that our
“loose ends” were tied up so we could leave this world in peace? More
importantly, would we make sure those “loose ends” were tied up so
when we stand before the Lord, we can hear Him say those beautiful
words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Would that not be much
better than having to first answer why I snapped at my girls about
dirty dishes, why I complained about the garbage not being taken to
the dumpster, why I was worried about if the living room floor was
vacuumed. More importantly, wouldn’t it be better than explaining why
I didn’t “love well”, why I held on to old hurts and let them build
walls of resentment, why I let the “unimportant” become important?
Why I had an unforgiving spirit, caring more to “lick my wounds” than
to “forgive and forget”?

I am KEENLY aware that life is fleeting, and that any moment can be
our last moment. I have lived the lyrics of the song that states, “We
are all just one phone call (or in our case, police visit) from our
knees”. I know that “about the day or hour no one knows”. I believe
that taken in context, that scripture refers to Jesus’ return,
however, I also believe that it is very true of each and every one of
our lives. No matter how much of a control freak we might be (and I’m
more than guilty of that “title”), when it is our “time to go, it is
our time to go” and over that, I will have to relinquish ALL control.
My life, EVERY SINGLE BREATH is out of my control. God controls my
destiny – not me – no matter how much I WANT to be in control . . .
nobody knows the day or the hour – that the Lord will return, OR that
He will call me (or any of us) home.

I’m SURE that when Rickey left home on the morning of November 5,
2011, he left home with EVERY INTENTION of returning home in a few
hours to continue on with our plans for the day, our plans for the
rest of the weekend, our plans for the rest of our lives – after all
hunting season was just 10 short days away – and that was always a
HIGHLIGHT of his year. I believe that he had every intention of
“coming home” that day, not ultimately “going home”. Yet, God’s story
for Rickey was that he would go to his “forever” home that day. As
Taya said, he woke up in PARADISE. Was he ready? Yes. Did he plan
to go, that day, that moment? I don’t think so. Were his loose ends
“tied up”? Pretty much. Had he known/had we known, would November 4
have been different? I’m sure. I will always be thankful that he
came to my side of the bed and kissed me on the cheek as he left the
house that morning. I will always be thankful that minutes before his
fall, we talked on the phone, ending the call with “Love you, bye”. I
will always be thankful that we had no “loose ends” in that area. We
didn’t have a silly unsettled argument hanging between us. The girls
had said goodnight, I love you, to Daddy the night before. Those
“loose ends” were taken care of. Are there other things that Rickey
would have done differently? I’m sure of it. He would have called
the big kids & grand babies. He would have called his Daddy & Mama
(but I’m so glad he had gone to their house for a visit just a few
nights before). He would have called his siblings, his friends . . .
many “would have’s” . . . but he didn’t know. We didn’t know. We
don’t know. The Mayans didn’t predict the end of the world any more
than any of us can predict then end of our lives.

Last week, as I was wheeled into surgery, I wasn’t fearful. I knew
without a doubt Who was in control. I knew that He controlled the day
ahead of me. I knew I would either wake up in the recovery room, or
in Paradise. Did I tie up all of my “loose ends” before surgery? No.
Maybe I should have. Thankfully, I was given more time to live and to
love and to learn to let the unimportant stay unimportant while
learning to focus on the important! Interestingly enough, as we
discussed “Advanced Directives” before surgery and I told Tessa that
she was my #2 person on the list – if Rick couldn’t be there to speak
for me – she would have to. She told me that if it came down to it,
she’d pull the plug . . . “Well, I wouldn’t actually “pull” it, but
I’d tell them to”! Which goes along with my wishes, but also lets me
know that my girls do have a firm grasp on the reality of life . . .
and death, and the certainty of what awaits us when death greets us.
As the song says, “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the
power of Christ in me! From life's first cry, to final breath, Jesus
commands my destiny! No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever
pluck me from His hand! 'Till He returns, or calls me home, here in
the power of Christ I'll stand!” Death is fearful to those of us left
behind, but if the person who dies is a believer in Jesus Christ and
His FREE gift of salvation through His death on the cross, there is
absolutely no fear. We can know that Jesus commands our destiny and
no power of hell, no scheme of man will take us from His tender,
loving hand.

So, my challenge is to try to make each moment count. As we have
celebrated another CHRISTmas season and the birth of the REASON for
our hope for eternity and as we enter into yet another New Year . . .
let’s make each moment count – for eternity!

I recently read a devotional that reminded me to REMEMBER that God is
ALWAYS in control. In the good, in the bad, in the terrible . . . HE
IS THERE . . . He does control each and every moment of each and every
day. He controls the number of breaths we will take on this earth.
He, not the Mayans or Harold Camping or anyone else KNOWS the day and
the hour of Christ’s return just as we don’t know when we will take
our last breath here on earth. The devotional read, in part:

“When joy surrounds. When sorrow clobbers. When all's right in our
world. When the bottom drops out. When we feel loved and cherished.
When we feel abandoned and alone, let's remember... They (the saints
of old) remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was
their Redeemer. (Psalm 78:35) Dear Lord, Your love and Your grace
never fail. Please help me remember this today and always. Thank You.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.”

I know that I will never have all my “loose ends” tied up, but I will
strive to live each day to the fullest . . . living, laughing, loving
. . . enjoying the life and the blessings that, despite tragedy
striking, God has continued to bless me with. I will embrace when joy
surrounds, I will cling tightly when sorrow clobbers, I will praise
Him when all’s right in my world and I will continue to praise when
the bottom drops out. I will thank Him when I feel loved and
cherished and I will turn to him for comfort when I feel abandoned and
alone . . . for He is my Rock and my Redeemer and His love and grace
will NEVER fail me!

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