My recent post was more of a “processing” one. It was the result of me coming home after a busy Wednesday and just needing to process missing my mom, how the Lord is still good in the midst of it all. Technically, this post is a follow up to my last one, because the Lord is urging me to go in depth with you about one of the gifts that He gave me through Mom’s cancer and death. But this post has been stirring in my heart for a while.
My husband took me on my “dream trip” to NYC. I have always wanted to visit there. We had previously spent 8 hours (yes, literally, just 8 hours) there with our youth on our way home from a mission trip in New Hampshire. But only 8 hours in NYC + keeping up with 20 students didn’t really count in my book. So for Christmas, he surprised me big time. I cry pretty much never, but I almost cried when he gave it to me. Our time there was wonderful. We went to Times Square, Central Park, walked 10+ miles a day, and my favorite, we got to see “Wicked” (and oh my goodness was it wonderful!!!).
But my time there also made me think of Mom. Mom got to visit NYC when she was a senior in high school, but she always talked about going back. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was her favorite, and she also dreamed of watching that in person. Mom never got to do these things. In fact, I would guess that there were several things on Mom’s “Bucket List” that she never got to do. But can I be super honest with you? At the end of her life, I don’t think she cared, and I know that she definitely doesn’t care now.
We get so caught up in our “Bucket Lists”, don’t we? We get caught up thinking that we aren’t living life to the fullest if we haven’t traveled to X, Y, and Z by the time we’re 30. We also get caught up in the “What will we eat? what will we wear?” stuff of life like Jesus warns us against in Matthew 6. We covet and desire a remodeled kitchen. We believe lies that our life would be better if we just had that new car. There’s nothing wrong with these things. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming of a trip to NYC and getting to take that trip. There’s nothing wrong with saving up to get the car of your dreams (anyone else on team mini-van out there?).
But dear friends, we must be careful with these things as well. Because the problem is created when these things become idols in our lives. The problem isn’t in wanting to travel the world, it’s in striving after this dream so much that you lose sight of what matters. It’s in striving after temporal things so much that you spend all of your time and money investing in the things of this world, that will be here today and gone tomorrow. The problem lies when we begin to covet, to compare, and to look for our joy in these very temporal things.
I watched my mom finish her life on this earth and go to be with Jesus when she was young, not even 50 yet. But as I watched her, I saw a woman who lived her life to the fullest for Jesus, and therefore, she was a woman with no regret. No, she didn’t get to take that trip to NYC and I’m sure there’s other “material” things that she dreamed of that she never did. BUT… she spent her life doing so many things that were much better. She invested her time in 11th and 12th graders, not just teaching them Sunday school, but inviting them to her home, sending them a card when they missed, and simply just loving on them. We joked and called her “Dr. Mom” because she spent her time in the church parking lot asking people how they were doing, and when she asked, she wanted an actual answer, not just “Fine”. She arranged to be late to work on Fridays to open up her home to a bunch of high school cheerleaders and to share Jesus with them. Basically, she spent her life investing in eternal things for the Kingdom of God.
So, another thing that the Lord has given me through Mom’s cancer is the gift of an eternal perspective. Watching your mom die when she’s only 48 changes you big time. For me, it’s helped me realize that so much of what we chase after in life and worry about in life really doesn’t matter in the end.
The Lord is showing me that if I never get to go on a cruise or travel the world, but that money/time went to things like missions or our students, then I’m not going to care. If I never get to cover my kitchen in shiplap and subway tile, but my kitchen is filled with our students, and later, our boys and their friends, and they feel welcome and open in my home, I won’t care. If I never get the newest car with all of the fancy bells and whistles, but I use the car that I have to get our boys to church, to eventually carpool their friends, etc., I’m not going to care.
You see, I saw my mom laying on her death bed, and she wasn’t sad. She wasn’t there with regrets saying, “I wish that I had gone on that trip”. And to the mamas out there, believe it or not, she wasn’t saying, “I wish that I had fed you less McDonald’s when you were younger”. No, I saw a woman who was content. She was at peace. My mom ran her race well, and that my friends, should be our desire too.
The Lord is teaching me to stop striving after the temporal things. He’s teaching me to stop worrying so much about things that honestly, don’t really matter (like if you’re child eats some dirt… ha!). He’s showing me that what I need to chase after are the things of Him. I need to be pursuing friendships of eternal value. I need to be striving to be hospitable, and to use the home that He has given me (shiplap or not) to make people feel loved. I need to be intentional with my time and my money, investing those things in Kingdom-minded things. I need to be reminded that my children are actually His, and that He has entrusted them to me for just a short time. Ultimately, I need to be spending my efforts on 2 things- loving God and loving His people.
Oh dear friends, it is so easy to get wrapped up in this life. But this life is not our best life. Our best life waits for us in eternity when we will be in the presence of our Savior! May the Lord give us eyes for eternity. May He help us keep our eyes fixed on Him and His Kingdom!