The day I had been dreading dawned with beauty, relentlessly indifferent to my emotions. Over the prior weeks of packing I had been able to ignore the unwelcome truth that four of my favorite people were about to move over a thousand miles away; but I could not conveniently shove that morning behind a complacent assurance that “we still had time.” It was the Last Day–sacred in the memories gathered over ten years, each breath to be drawn out in the hope of pausing time just for a moment to further delay the inevitable.
I moved through the events of the day with eyes that did not see and ears that did not hear. Each glance at the clock was a reminder that the hours were hurtling us closer to that last hug, that final “goodbye.” By the time I made it home that afternoon, I already had cried off the last of my makeup.
When I walked into the house, my husband informed me that my loved ones planned to finish the last of their packing and stop by on the way out of town around seven that night. With dread, I cuddled my son and watched the hours slip away. Seven o’clock passed, and eight o’clock, and still they did not come. Finally, around nine o’clock the phone rang. A comedy of errors and miscommunication had combined against us, and by the time they realized we were not meeting them where they had anticipated, they were already an hour into their journey. I sank into a dining room chair under a sick wave of grief, stunned that–after everything–we did not get to say “goodbye.”
James 4:14-15 admonishes us not to boast about tomorrow, for we have no way of knowing what each day will bring. Jesus echoed this sentiment in Luke 12 when he told the parable of the rich man who planned to tear down his barns and build new ones to hold greater possessions that he might say to his soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry” (Lk. 12:19). God called this rich man a fool, asking who would enjoy those bigger barns after he died that night. Is Jesus against planning for the future? No. But each plan must be God-centric and preparing for the day of His coming.
Life so rarely goes the way we plan. If we are but a vapor on the clock of eternity, our unformed moments are merely the beginnings of a breath. We must take care to make every moment count, never to regret putting down the media and spending time with our loved ones, always to say, “I love you.” In retrospect I am grateful that I took the last few days leading up to the move of my brother and his family to spend with my nephews. How much more precious now are those hours we spent at the park and those last, chubby hugs in the driveway the night before they were to move.
Though we may not understand Christ’s ways, He is the only constant of which we are assured. May we keep our eyes on what truly matters. We do not have tomorrow, but He’s given us today. Let’s make it count.