“5 years ago you fell off your bike and …busted your face,” so was the friendly text on Monday from my granddaughter, Delia. Indeed, she was right, at least partially. She was commemorating five years since I fainted while riding my bike, probably due to dehydration, and ended up in the ER. Gratefully, “busted your face” wasn’t quite accurate, but it looked like it. I blogged about it the next day in a post called In Praise of the Helmet!
But the five years since my infamous bike wreck isn’t the main focus of this post. That event was just three days after my wife, Linda, had a mastectomy on June 10, 2011. See In Sickness and in Health. She was recovering at home just three days after surgery when she received the call from law enforcement that her husband was in the hospital ER due to a bicycle accident. She couldn’t come to check on me and was left with no information for some time whether I was dead or alive. But I was fine, probably a mild concussion, but no lasting effect, and was released to go home.
So here we are five years later, both of us survivors of a potentially deadly situation, mine by neglecting to hydrate adequately, hers by the all too common reality of breast cancer. But while these are definable, all of you are five year survivors of the past five years too, just as much as we are. It is only by God’s grace that any of us have made it these five years.
Five Year Reflections:
Every year, every month, every day is a gift from God, who is sovereign over all our days. David reflects on this in Psalm 139:16 (NIV), All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. And in the midst of his ordeal of suffering, Job declared, Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” (Job 14:5)
The blessings of the past five years are many – enjoying our children, the maturing of our grandchildren, welcoming more grandchildren, gaining another son through the the marriage of our daughter, Jill to Matt; the blessing of friends, the blessings of the church of Jesus Christ, both locally and globally; seeing the impact of the Gospel in the lives of people. This list is far beyond recounting.
It does matter how we live each day. The prayer of Moses, Psalm 90, notes that a typical life span is seventy years, or possibly eighty, but they quickly pass, and we fly away. So he prays, Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (10-12)
We must not take each other for granted, especially those closest to us. Linda is such a precious gift to me. Proverbs 18:22 continues to resonate, He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. It could have ended after 39 years of marriage, as it did for my parents after 38 years or marriage, but God has given us 44 years and counting. What an indescribable gift!
While we are blessed with ongoing life on earth, this is not the ultimate, and we must not get too comfortable here. …Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20) This mortal life doesn’t go on forever. Marriage isn’t forever, just “until death do us part.” Advanced medical discovery and cures for many illnesses are not the ultimate. Ultimately, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
Grace is not just in living another year, but for those who trust in Jesus Christ, the grace of dying is even more powerful. My greatest personal loss in the past five years is the death of my brother, Wes, last October. And just the year before that, a dear friend, Jim. Are they less a recipient of God’s grace because they didn’t survive the past five years? No way! Yes, I feel their loss to me deeply but I can rejoice in the midst of my grief that they are experiencing what for us is yet future. Indeed, for those who are in Christ, the best is yet to come!
The lyrics of Mark Altrogge express it well, the gift of each breath, the grace for every day, but ultimately, our eternal hope in Jesus..
You have ordained every breath we take
In pleasure or pain, there is no mistake
Gladness and grief, both are in Your hand
And sufferings brief carry out Your plan
And our fleeting sorrows
Will yield an endless prize
When some bright tomorrow
We’ll see You with our eyes, and
Grace upon grace flows down, flows down
Grace upon grace flows down, flows down
Through the precious blood of Christ
Sovereign Grace Music, 2008, from Come Weary Saints