“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24, NIV 2011).
90 was a rough year. I was sitting across from my 91-year-old father as he struggled to eat. He has deteriorated in health and mentation so much that it takes him an hour to get his food down. He is unable to carry on a meaningful conversation during that time. Just a year ago we were playing tennis together.
As I sat there and watched him eat, I thought back on all the years we had shared with him, hospital rounds as a young boy, the tennis courts on Sunday afternoons as a child, the fun vacations, the words of wisdom, the amazing way he loves my mother and handled patients.
Sitting there at lunch I understood that this moment and this year of his deterioration did not define my father’s life.
We all go through rough years. Some are due to health, some to sin, some to broken relationships, some to our failures in healthcare, some just to life in a broken world. Some of us are there now.
When we are in these rough years, we have a tendency to let these years define us and make us believe that we are of lesser value than we had once imagined.
Not so. Our lives in God’s story are much bigger than that.
Our lives are defined by all that we have been before and all we shall be after. At the final recording, our lives will be defined, as will be our future in God’s story, not by the difficulties themselves but by our character within both rough and smooth times.
And more importantly, our lives will be defined by the people who have known us.
Will those who know me become better persons because of my presence in their lives?
Will they love God more? Will they be less selfish? Will they serve others more? Will they be more kind, more forgiving? What effect does my life have on those around me? This will become the true definition of my life.
One thing about my father during this rough year: whenever he becomes most frustrated at his loss of function, he breaks out in the sweetest smile I have ever known and accepts life the way it is. Whenever we talk of Jesus, we get the same smile.
Help me become ready for the rough times so that when they are mine, others will find you in me.