Imagine if you were suffering from a fatal disease and you didn’t know how much time you had left. You had small children, one a baby less than a month old. That was the situation in an article about Leah Siegel succumbing to cancer. She fought the incurable disease for two years, trying to ensure her children would have memories of her, that she would have enough time with them.
My oldest is months away from turning 13. My youngest is 5 but we also have one more on the way. With respect to my oldest, I have about 5 more years to be a strong influence on his life before he goes it on his own. His brother is only 16 months behind him. Still, this story is a reminder that I’m not guaranteed these 5 or 6 years. I am not guaranteed tomorrow.
I am thankful that the boys have made spiritual decisions to follow Christ. I hope that their mother and I have served God well in teaching the boys that it is about more than ritual and Sunday mornings. Faith is required. Obedience to a standard that is different than the world’s is expected. But even saying all of this, salvation is an unmerited gift from a loving God, not something they can ever earn and certainly not something they ever deserve (none of us do).
But that further reminds me that every day is important. I am expected to lead my family. I am expected to be the example. I am expected to have the mind and heart and love of Christ for my wife and children. For my boys, I model the type of father they should be when they are adults as well as the type of husband they should be for their wives. For my little girl, I model the type of man she should look to marry. If I botch the model, I could lead my children astray. That weighs heavy on my heart.
My wife is the one I promised to my Lord and Master that I’d love and cherish until death do us part. He has commanded me to love her as He loves us. He went to the Cross for us to pay a debt we couldn’t cover. Talk about an impossible example! Yet that is my standard. That is what I must reach for. Christ didn’t take a day off. I can’t, either.
All of this and I don’t know how much time I have left. It could be up in an instant or I could live to a ripe old age and welcome my great, great grandchildren. I can’t worry about that. I have to face the fact that I can’t expect that I will have tomorrow to make up for a misunderstanding or a hurt I inflict today. I don’t have tomorrow to correct a mistake I’ve made. I only know that I have right now. And I must make the most of it.
But I know that I have fallen far short of this standard. It is so easy to lapse into the thinking that tomorrow will be there. It is just a small step to put off confronting my shortcomings and avoiding apologizing to my charges and correcting my wrongs. This story about Mrs. Siegel reminds me I have no such luxury. Then there is this devotional I wrote a few days ago. In everything I do, I must do in the name of Jesus Christ, giving thanks to the Father through Him.
I have a long way to go to be the father and husband God wants me to be. But rather than lament that I’m not good enough, I must seek to be better every moment. I must seek to seize each opportunity and make the most of it. This will be my earnest prayer for a long time to come.