Time is shorter than we think…

Our friend, Bruce

Our friend, Bruce

As I posted yesterday, my friend, Bruce died early yesterday morning. He was buried yesterday, too, in a natural cemetery in Penn Laird. It was a beautiful graveside service on a beautiful day at a beautiful place. He was honored by his family and a large throng of friends.

I didn’t know Bruce as long as virtually everyone else there. I’ve only known him since his illness. He was invited to our men’s group by his friend, Wayne, and he was quickly welcomed with open arms. He shared in that first meeting his diagnosis of stomach cancer and was ready to begin with the treatments. This was nearly two years ago.

In the journey he and his family have been on the past two-plus years, his steadfast faith and resolve were an inspiration to us all. His perspective was always eternal.

A group of us went to see him two weeks ago. He thought his time was short. He looked good when we saw him: good energy, good color to his skin and face, and he was alert and engaging as ever. That was the last time I saw him.

In the past two years, since his diagnosis, relationships became more and more important to Bruce. It seemed as if his marriage relationship drew even closer than before. His relationships with his children were even more important than before and he placed a special emphasis on getting to know his numerous grandchildren. He loved his friends, both the men in his churches (as Pastor Kerry Willis said, one church couldn’t hold Bruce) and those outside the church. Relationships were of the utmost importance to Bruce.

I regret not going to see him at some point in the past two weeks. He knew his time was short. I knew his time was short. Hospice had been called in to help. I just thought he had more time.

I say all this not to make you feel sorry for me, but to remind us all how important relationships are. They were of growing importance to Bruce as his time here grew shorter. They should be of growing importance to us as our days here grow shorter.

You’re still teaching me lessons, Bruce.

A String in the Air

My friend, Wayne, stopped by my office two days ago to talk. He asked me if I had time for lunch. I sharply replied, “No.” I then proceeded to tell him all about my busy schedule. Reports to finish, things to do, people to see… my life is busy. As I barely look up from my computer screen, I tell him that I just don’t have time.

Yes, my life at work IS busy. It is a virtual assembly-line of busywork, one thing after another. If I eat lunch, it’s in the car on the run, going from one busy thing to the next. I use my smartphone to manage my calendar and it alerts me to remember my next appointment. I hate being late. I hate running behind. I’m busy.

As I ponder all this busy-ness this morning, somehow I’m reminded of an adult Sunday school lesson I taught several years ago. I was trying to get everyone to understand visually the concept of eternity. I tied a string high up on a wall at one end of the room and fastened the other end at the same height at the other end of the room. I explained that this string is a timeline for eternity, except I said to imagine the sting running on a straight line through the wall, through the other walls in the building and out the door, through the parking lot, and on and on and on. Both directions.

Then I said, “Do you see the dot on the string right here?” I had placed a tiny mark on the string. Everyone strained to see the dot. I’m not sure they could even see it. I said, “That dot is the span of your life, compared to the immensity of eternity.”

I’m reminded of that dot and that string this morning as I ponder my busy-work. When it’s all said and done, God won’t ask me about my work, my reports, my deadlines and how well I managed my schedule. As I sit with Him for all eternity, He may ask me what I did with the vast array of people He sent my way. He will ask me, I fear, about what I did with the relationships He gave me.

Although my life is a speck on the timeline of eternity, it has a ripple effect on the folks I encounter every day, especially on the folks I have a relationship with. They are impacted by me – positively or negatively – and they, in turn, do the same to the folks they encounter. Andy Andrews calls it “The Butterfly Effect.” Google that sometime and watch a seven-minute video. It will give you perspective.

So will the memory of a string in the air, reminding me of what’s really important.

I think I’ll call Wayne and have lunch.