I think that the Lord has been teaching me a lot lately about the brevity of this life.
I mentioned recently all of the loss of earthly life that I have known, directly or indirectly, as of late. I posted about my legacy and how I am determined to leave a legacy of love. I am also thinking more these days about how I am treasuring my family and my life here on earth. These are all ponderings that God is using to mold me now; to shape me into the child HE made me to be to Him. It isn't even so much about being the Wife or the Mother He wants me to be. It is just about simply being His child. It isn't always fun, but I can feel the growth in my heart.
This may seem weird, I have been thinking about my wedding china. I know it is weird, but I have been. You see, when Nathan and I got married, we received twelve place settings of beautiful china. We moved to a new state shortly after we married and put our china into Nathan's parents' attic. When we finally built our home in GA, we wanted to wait until we had a beautiful cabinet to display it in. Shortly after we moved into our home though (like 20 days later!), we had Graycen, our first baby. Four more babies, nearly ten years of marriage (in September!), a call into seminary and full-time ministry later, we still don't have the cabinet. It is just the way it is. Life and the blessings God has gifted us with have come far before a china cabinet and we wouldn't change it for anything. All the while, our lovely, delicately embossed china that we spent hours picking out in the months before our wedding, was sitting in boxes collecting dust in my in-laws' attic. It seemed like such a waste.
Sometime in the last two months, I began wanting to have my china here so badly! I explained to Nathan that if something unthinkable happened and I lost him, not only would I mourn for him (obviously), but that I would mourn the fact that we had never once eaten off of that china together. I went on to tell him that I would carry it all out into the street and smash it into a million pieces, because if I hadn't used our wedding china with the man that I made the vows with that those beautiful pieces were meant to celebrate, then I didn't want to use them EVER. Of course, it was a weighty image; me standing in the street, bawling my eyes out, throwing delicate china onto the cement. Nathan, my witty-to-an-almost-fault husband, understood exactly what I was saying, but couldn't help, but to make one request. He said, "Oh Honey! That would be awful! I have one request though. Would you, even just once, yell out HOOPAH! when you throw a plate?!?!?! I have always wanted to do that!"
All this to say that on my last trip to GA, I brought back my wedding china. It isn't in a beautiful china cabinet and set up on display so that everyone can "ooh" and "aah" at it, but it is here. I made room for it at the top of one of my kitchen cabinets. I took each piece out of the original gift boxes they came in and carefully placed them on the shelf. I decided that, in September, I would make a wonderful meal and set a gorgeous table in honor of our tenth wedding anniversary. I imagined the whole thing in my mind and even teared up thinking about what a wonderful occasion it would be to use our china for the first time, even if it wasn't going to happen in the spacious dining room with the shiny new tablecloth and beside the magnificent china cabinet I had envisioned in those months before our wedding.
This morning I read about Christopher Laurie . He is the son of Greg Laurie, a well-known evangelist. He was killed in a car accident yesterday and leaves on the earth a beautiful little daughter, a young wife, and the sweet baby girl that they were expecting to be born in November. Again, my heart hit the floor. By all earthly accounts, this wasn't supposed to happen this way. This family had every reason to be celebrating the coming life in the next few months! They were probably picking names and buying all of the stuff that we all go out and buy when we are waiting for a baby to arrive. Yet here they are now a blink of an eye later, jolted from their joy and facing this loss that most of us cannot even let our minds wonder to. This isn't a chapter that is written in the "What to Expect..." books. Although we can find comfort in God's Word about it, it cannot be planned or prepared for. There was no notice or flags indicating the arrival of this loss for this family.
I cannot (and I truly mean those words) imagine the weight of the pain that is in the chest of Brittany Laurie right now as she mourns the loss of her beloved while also carrying the child that was supposed to have a very different life than what she will now have. I have prayed for Brittany Laurie, her daughter Stella, the daughter that she is carrying, and the entire Laurie family this morning and will continue to do so.
All of a sudden, even though it is already July, September seemed so far away. My life is a vapor. It is fleeting, just like all of these people that have left the earth before they thought they would. So, tonight I am setting a grand table. We will all still be a little crammed into the area that our table fits into in our little family-housing apartment that we are blessed with by the seminary and I am sure one of the kids will, at some point, either throw something down, or cry, or smear something on the wall, or all of the above. We are having what was planned for dinner tonight, Mexican Chicken with black beans and Spanish rice, but we will be eating it a little differently than originally planned.Can you take a guess what our family will be eating on tonight?
I know that, in the end, it won't be whether or not we ever eat off of our wedding china that my family will treasure. However, I want them to live their lives in the present tense. I want them to give NOW, to serve NOW, to love NOW. I want them to feel burden NOW for the lost people in their lives and to not hold back in fear for what they may not get a chance to do tomorrow. In the end, this china will burn up like wood, but I hope to see the jewels of love-shown, compassion-given, and lives-lived like Christ left shining in the ashes.