Monday, July 12, 2010
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” - Phil. 1:21
I drove to Nashville and back on Saturday to attend a Memorial service for the dad of my best friend John Vicary. John and I have been friends since college. We’ve talked every month or so for 30 years. We all have a few friends that are like brothers and sisters and John has been a brother to me through life’s ups and downs, good times and bad. I love him dearly. He has been God’s messenger for encouragement to me over and over and over.
So, it was an easy choice to make the trip to stand with him in the loss of his father. John was there for me 22 years ago when my dad passed suddenly and I wanted to be there for him. Too often, in the past, I’ve made the easier choices to miss these kinds of things and regretted it later. I’m learning, as I get older, to have no regrets. Good intentions are worthless. Perhaps they are even worse than no intention at all. If prompted by the Lord, we are to go, period. The circumstances are just details. When I go within God’s prompting, he provides all the grace I need to make the journey.
I went with the intention of being a blessing, but as usually happens in these deals, I was the one blessed. Jack Vicary was a tremendous man who loved people, was devoted to his family, worked hard and loved the Lord Jesus. The testimonies of his co-workers and kids were tremendous.
And you know what? Not once did the speakers refer to how much money he had in his checking account. They did not refer to how well his kids did in sports growing up. There was no mention of his golf score or what kind of car he drove. And the balance of his 401 K was not sitting on top of the podium in the front of the sanctuary.
The stories told were about his family and faith. Jack was diagnosed with A.L.S. a year ago and the disease took away his health rather quickly. But he never lost his faith in Jesus and his love for his family. As John told us, he never once complained. He knew, as he certainly knows now, that death only leads to life. Jack truly knew that “death is only gain.”
As his sons shared and his grandkids reflected, they were left with hearts forever changed because of the life lived by Jack. He certainly “practiced what he preached” and left his mark on all of our lives. And I thank him for his affect on me.
As I drove back to Branson that night, I reflected on my own memorial service. I wondered what would be said about me, “He exercised a lot. He watched Andy Griffith whenever he could. He worried quite a bit. And his yard looked pretty good most of the time.” I confess that I didn't like what I heard everyone sharing.
In the end, the mark I leave behind for my kids and friends to remember is the mark I leave with them everyday. When the candle of our lives is extinguished, the image of the flame remains. It’s the attitude I live out before them on good and bad days. It’s the choices I make to follow Christ and put the lives that surround me before myself.
Enjoy sports with your kids and save money when you can, but don’t make those things your life. Jack, like Paul, boldly proclaimed every day “to live is Christ.”
What memories of ourselves are we leaving behind today?
By Eric Joseph Staples ©