I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how quickly life passes. Maybe it’s because my birthday is right around the corner, or maybe it’s because my son just got engaged. It could also be that we spent the last week vacationing in Michigan, not far from where I grew up. Hundreds of memories resurfaced, reminding me of how things used to be coupled with a bittersweet sadness that they can never be that way again. My parents will never be that young again, my siblings never that carefree, my childhood friends no longer a daily constant.
On top of all this, my sweet friend Virginia passed away last week. I met Virginia 13 years ago, when I was pregnant with Julia. She was finishing up cancer treatment at that time, and entering remission. She quickly went from “acquaintance” to “friend” to “family.” She meant it when she said, “Call me if you ever need anything.” And I did. Virginia came to my rescue in many ways over the years, and she taught me what it means to be a steadfast, true friend.
So, yes. Life passes quickly.
Nathanael taught me how to play chess when we were dating. At first, I was intrigued with this game, its clever pieces and precise rules. I didn’t mind losing to him either, because I was just learning. After a while though, I realized he was a rather ruthless opponent. He came to win. He took no prisoners. He was willing to do what I had no patience for, that is, take as much time as he needed to plan ahead, to strategize, to play with his end game forefront in his mind.
I’m starting to see the value of living life like Nathanael plays chess. As in, what’s my end game? Remember, life is short. So, what happens when this is all over? I’ve always been cognizant of the passing of time, but it takes a week like I just had to really stop and think. It takes these major life events to be reminded that my time passes in the blink of an eye. Thinking about my end game is more than a good idea, or even a smart strategy. It’s a matter of life and death.
If all this sounds horribly depressing, please don’t panic. That’s just your natural, human response to the idea of change, of getting older, and yes, of dying. It’s my natural response, too. It’s likely why I have been crying on and off at random and inconvenient times for several days now. We don’t like these feelings because we know this isn’t how things are supposed to be. When sin entered the world, it drastically changed God’s creation and His design for our lives. And there was only one possible result for our end game.
The good news, the very best news, is that Jesus is the Game Changer. Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light…” (2 Timothy 1:10) This is nothing short of astounding. He has abolished the thing we fear the most. He now hands us a simple book of strategy for how to win: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Following Jesus is a sure way live life with my end game in mind. He promises to get me where I need to go. Following Jesus, staying connected to Him through His Word, and praying to the Father through Him is life changing, and life giving.
I have no doubt that part of me will always struggle to adapt to all the changes this life brings. I also know that this makes Jesus, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” even more precious to me (Hebrew 13:8). I know I can trust in Him to lead me through whatever comes my way. I am confident that, in Him, my end game is secure and I have already won.
Ye who are of death afraid
Triumph in the scattered shade.
Drive your anxious cares away;
See the place where Jesus lay.
Christian, dry your flowing tears
Chase your unbelieving fears;
Look on His deserted grave,
Doubt no more His power to save.
(The Lutheran Hymnal 203:2-3)