Mar23FriNone of us will live forever, but greater things are still to come. March 23, 2018 by Lieutenant Laura Hickman
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
From time to time, I like to pull out the movie Last Holiday with Queen Latifah. The storyline follows Georgia, a woman with big dreams. Early in the movie, Georgia suffers a concussion at work, which leads to a CT scan and a diagnosis that she is dying. The doctor estimates she only has a few weeks left to live.
This scenario is common in movies, and often the viewer is left questioning, “If I only had a week, a month, a year left to live, would I want to know? How would I spend my last days?” I’ve found myself thinking a lot about this lately. But what has been resonating with me is that these questions are flawed.
Scripture says, “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:13-14 NLT).
Would I want to know if I only had a year left to live?The reality is we are not promised tomorrow. We take for granted that tomorrow is guaranteed, but I’m learning that life is fragile. People we expected to be around for years are taken from us prematurely, some suddenly, others after a short fight with cancer. Children get sick and die way before anyone feels is right. There is no rhyme or reason to this thing called life.
My mom was diagnosed with cancer in June 2017. In September, she had surgery to remove the cancer and we were hopeful that our cancer journey would end there. About two and a half weeks after her surgery, she received news that the cancer was found in her lymph nodes, meaning further treatment would be necessary. While her prognosis is good, our encounter with cancer is far from over.
Throughout the summer, as we reflected on where a journey with cancer could go, my mom confidently shared, “You know, for a Christian, death is not the worst thing that could happen.” At Thanksgiving, she confirmed her belief. “It’s not that I have a will to die, but I know that in light of eternity, my life here, however long it will be, is only a drop in the bucket of time.”
My mom’s diagnosis, and now our journey with cancer, brings to light our mortality. None of us will live forever. But while a piece of us wants to cling to what we know, we can have the assurance that greater things are still to come. Our life here and now is just the beginning.
As I continue to reflect on James 4, I am reminded of a question I often heard during the altar call of youth events: “If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?”
The reality of our mortality shouldn’t be depressing, nor is it a pessimistic approach to living. Instead, it challenges us to consider what we are doing with the life we have now. It also challenges us to honestly consider where we will spend eternity. If we do not plan on spending eternity with God, what does the alternative look like?
Being confronted with the fragility of life can be difficult at first. Life as we know it, though challenging, is good; thinking about its end can be sad. In light of eternity, though, my mom has been teaching me that death does not have to be that way.
I don’t read James 4 and hear that I shouldn’t plan for the future—I continue to dream about what life could be like. We imagine a future with my mom where cancer will be a story along the way. I dream about my children and the years of adventure that await us. I look ahead with great expectation to what is still to come. I’m also encouraged to reflect on my life in light of eternity. My hope and prayer is that it has eternal impact.
Lieutenant Laura Hickman is the corps officer at Suncoast Citadel in Goderich, Ont.