With so many celebrities passing this week it is difficult not to think about death. I don't know why the death of celebrities cause a greater response than the deaths of "common" people or of victims of crime or war or of starving children in the developing world but I know that when death is in front of us it reminds us of our fate. We too will one day breathe our last and pass on into the next world. And what is left? Certainly not us but our legacy will live on. Maybe we won't live on in the same way that some famous people do but those we love will remember us. What will they remember? What words will be used to sum up our lives and our influence? Funerals are the place for very kind words to be spoken regardless of how the person lived. What words would be used in the quiet moments when they can be honest about us? Time will tell and we who are living can still determine our legacy.
As I think about my baby boy or girl that will be coming into our lives next year I wonder if I will be a good dad. Will I train the little one to be great? Or will I have been a cause for grief and therapy? Some children grow up with little guidance and they will wander through life having never been trained to deal with life. I want my child to grow up and be released straight and strong like an arrow that leaves the archer's bow. Unwavering in his or her values I hope that my son or daughter will stand for what's good in the world. I hope that I will pass on right virtues; how to love well, how to be generous, when to say no, when to fight, how to fight, when to walk way among other things.
The key to most of these things is discipline. I've allowed myself to be undisciplined and, honestly, the world we live in does not help. The fundamental right, the "pursuit of happiness," as stated in the Declaration of Independence has been turned into the pursuit of pleasure. This is really unfortunate because not all pleasure leads to happiness.
My lack of discipline really hit me in the face a few months ago when my dad made a statement about my basketball days. One of his coworkers that I used to play ball with asked if I ever did anything with my basketball skills. My dad said no and that the problem was that I liked to play but I didn't like to practice. He is absolutely right. I didn't like the practice. It was hard and made me really tired and I eventually gave up. I gave up... Sadly, this has transferred into other areas of life, especially in my life as a Christian. Most worthwhile things aren't easy yet I am stymied when I wonder why I don't see God moving in my life.
The good news is that each day is a new day and I can grow and learn and change.
At the wedding in Florida, one of Jon and Amanda's nieces asked a great question at dinner. "What's the best day in life?" What a great question. Weddings, the birth of your first child, the birth of every other child for that matter, graduation, your first home, your children graduating and getting married, having grandkids, all these things were mentioned and it made me think that life can be awesome. God intended life to be good and I think that must be remembered when pondering the finite number of days we've been given. I can't imagine the hopelessness (or something) that some must feel believing that there is no greater purpose to life, that this life ends and that nothing else follows. I do not believe that heaven transforms us into little, chubby, cupid-like angels floating in the clouds strumming harps. I think it will be much more real, much more physical than that. But I believe that the joy we share now is but a shadow of the joys to come.
May we all keep our lives in healthy perspective, disciplining ourselves to take hold of what life is really about and being ruthlessly joyful in the number of days that have been given to us. May those who know and love us be able to look at our lives (now and after we pass) and learn from them how to live rightly.