(It’s Not) Funny the Way It Is

firetruck

Lying in the park on a beautiful day
Sunshine in the grass, and the children play
Siren’s passing, fire engine red
Someone’s house is burning down on a day like this

The evening comes and we’re hanging out
On the front step and a car rolls by with the windows rolled down
And that war song is playing, “why can’t we be friends?”
Someone is screaming and crying in the apartment upstairs

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
Somebody’s going hungry and someone else is eating out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
One kid walks ten miles to school, another’s dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
On a soldier’s last breath his baby’s being born (Dave Matthews Band)

This week a story came across the wire (i.e. Facebook) that a Christian missionary family in Peoria, Ill., was burglarized. A yet unknown criminal broke in, shot the wife in the head and killed her, and then made off with the car, which was abandoned a few blocks away.

Thirty-nine years old, a husband and three young children. Dead, just like that. Somebody’s life completely undone, and for what? How could that possibly have been worth it to the low life who did that? How do you walk into some random house and destroy someone’s life with the squeeze of a trigger? It feels senseless. Cold. Callous. 

The father of my friend’s girlfriend was diagnosed with terminal cancer a week ago, and now he’s at home preparing to die. Went to work to clean out his desk, say goodbye to his coworkers and then wait to die. One moment life is fine; the next moment it’s over.

It’s not quite survivor’s guilt, as they call it, but there is something sobering about how life works. I’m coming home to my family, hugging my kids, while someone else is hearing the bad news. Sooner or later, the storm is coming for us all. That’s the unavoidable truth. Death will part us all, unless the Lord returns first. Your sunny day is the one on which someone else’s house is burning down.

What to do, then? First, we as Christians are one body, because we share in the same baptism and partake of the same loaf. On the way to work this morning I thought to myself, Why am I strong while they hurt? Why have others been strong when I was hurting? I think the answer, at least in part, is that God graciously leaves one part of the body strong enough to go to the hurting part, to serve it and help mend it.

Second—and this cannot be said enough—wisdom to live life comes when we live in full awareness of our frail, fleeting life on this earth (Psalm 90:12). I don’t have forever to play with my kids, kiss my bride or be a friend. Enjoy each moment and each person, every sunny day, because God gave them to you to enjoy (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20). Every time I leave a person, whether at home or work or wherever, I think, This might be the last time I ever see this person again. And that is true.

And finally, because I get scared, I remember Psalm 91, verses 11 and 12: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up.” My Father loves me and has at his command vast arrays of angels, surrounding me all the day long. I am invincible, until the day, hour and very moment when God in his wisdom calls me home.

You and me, we’re gonna die. Inevitable. Are you ready?

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