When someone you know dies, particularly when they are still young, it is somehow very different than when someone dies when they have lived a long life. A life cut short at a young age brings a different kind of sadness. It's probably because it seems it can't possibly be enough time for that person or their family. It suggests things left unfinished. But the truth is, God numbers all of our days - He knows when we will arrive and when we will draw our final breath.
A woman at my church, Robin Baughman, died as August 1st became August 2nd - at 12:01 a.m. She had battled cancer for almost two years. It was a very aggressive form of cancer and the doctors originally gave her a much shorter time line. God was gracious and gave her almost two years. But they were very hard years - days and weeks and months of pain and discomfort.
I can't begin to explain God's plans or purposes in taking a woman who was only 42 years old, a woman with a husband who will be lost without her and young children who will desperately feel her absence. I can't explain why, after Robin was so faithful and uncomplaining even in the midst of so much suffering, her last hours on earth were agonizing, why God did not take her peacefully at least for her family's sake. I can't explain it and I don't understand it. Part of me feels a bit put out with God at the moment because it seems to me He could have at least given her that.
But I do know one thing - God is good. If I can't believe that, then believing in God and His power and His greatness don't mean a whole lot. I also believe that the reward was worth it all - the pain and the suffering and the tears. That with Robin's first step onto that distant shore, God made it all beautiful and wiped away her tears. I also know God has used Robin's suffering and will continue to use it now that she is gone. He never wastes anyone's tears. The Psalms tell us He saves our tears in a bottle. That is such a tender, loving picture to me.
Robin was not a close friend. We were more acquaintance type friends - a "hi, how are you?" relationship. Even though we were not close, I was impressed with Robin's upbeat attitude through her whole ordeal. She had her bad days and was very honest about how hard it all was, but her faith was like a bright light. You could see it in her eyes even when she was tired or not feeling good.
Even though we were not close, her death hits me in ways that are hard to explain. Maybe it is because our oldest children are very close in age (our oldest sons share a birthday)or because she is only about five years older than I am. I can't help but think, "What if that was me?" and "Why her and not me?" I find myself looking at life a bit differently.
Now, I'll be honest. I really hate when people tell you that you should live as if this was your last day on earth. I mean, really?? If it was my last day on earth, I certianly wouldn't clean my toilet. I wouldn't exercise and I'd eat as much chocolate as I wanted. But if I lived that way every day, my house would be condemned by the board of health and I'd weight 300 lbs with rotten teeth.
Instead, I want to live my life without regrets. I don't want to let busyness or worry or fear keep me from living my life every single day so that when it is my time to meet my Heavenly Father face to face, I don't have to say "if only" or "I should have" or "I was waiting until.." I don't want to procrastinate life away. No matter how many years I have left, I want them to be full years, not wasted.
As one person said, "It isn't the number of years of life you have but the life in your years." Godspeed, Robin- your life and testimony will live on.