Anyway, whenever I celebrate a birthday I am always struck with a deep sense of how quickly life is flying by. I am sure many of you share the same sentiment.
I led worship (songs) last week at the Hopewell Network Kids Camp, and I had a blast. The kids love to shout out the songs, they jump up and down with the drums, and they kneel on their faces because even they are aware of how desperately we need a savior. On Tuesday, however, I gained a whole new perspective due to an unplanned, unforeseen event. That morning, like normal, I led worship for the kids. I drank in their beaming faces, their bed-head hair (no moms around to make sure they combed their hair since showering the night before…or to even make sure they actually got a shower), and their youthful sincerity. It was a blast.
Then, after lunch, I headed off campus to lead worship at a funeral for someone at our church. I was glad to be able to lead at the funeral, but the whole thing did feel a bit surreal. I have led songs at many funerals, some of which have been incredibly draining on me both emotionally and spiritually. Once, I led worship at a funeral for a youth who committed suicide and another time I led for friends who lost their young child to a battle with cancer. They were both painful. But I’ve also led at funerals for complete strangers who lived long lives. And even at those, I’ve gotten choked up watching the slide shows of the person’s life, even if the person was 95 when they died. Seeing a slideshow of their life during the service just wrecks me. They often start with a picture of the deceased as a bouncing baby-at the zenith of life-and then the pictures take you through their awkward adolescence, then their wedding picture, then pictures when they had their own children, and so on and so on. And now they have passed on to the other side of eternity.
While I sat at the piano leading Amazing Grace, sing the words, “When we’ve been there 10,000 years…” it just hit me. Those little kids I had just been leading worship for will be having their own funerals before we know it. And I was challenged to not just look at the kids as…well…kids. But rather, I felt God leading me to view them as He does. I wanted to see them as eternal souls.
So when I returned to camp an hour after the funeral, I changed back into my shorts and t-shirt and prepared my set list for the evening chapel. While doing so I decided to pick songs that really celebrated what God has done for us in regards to eternity. I wanted to celebrate both THIS life and the life to come. Those children are one breath from that life, same as the rest of us.
I was reminded of the sobering verses from Psalm 90:3-6 (NIV)
3 You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
4 A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.
Our precious children are like the grass. In the morning they spring up new but it won’t be long until evening comes, and they have withered away and become like dust.
I was at my Grandfather’s house a few weeks back and I found myself looking at famous photographs of American history collected in a book. And there was a picture of a baby from the late 1800’s (similar to the one connected to this posting….which was taken in the late 1860’s). I started getting emotional looking at the photo even though I had no idea who the child was. Why? There in front of me was the captured image of someone as a baby, when the rest of their life was still in front of them. So cute, so young, so seemingly innocent. But even if the person in the picture featured with this post lived to be 90 then she has been dead for over 50 years. She has been long gone.
Consider James 4:13-14 (NIV) 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Lets look at our children, or your friend’s children, or your grandchildren, with eternal eyes. Even they are just a mist that fades in the afternoon sun. But there is joy in the morning. And He desires that we enjoy this life, broken world and all.