Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14
These words from James remind us of the unknown future we all have on this earth in our physical bodies. Two persons dear to many of us passed into God’s eternal embrace on the same day, September 23, and both deaths caught many of us by surprise. Art Lewis, who would have been 85 on September 27, has been in declining health for several years, but when his heart gave out and he peacefully died in his McKinleyville home early Monday morning his daughter Lisa, who has been his caregiver, was not expecting it. They had just returned from a weekend visit to friends and family in Oregon and were looking forward to visits from more family members in a couple of weeks.
Reverend Charles Smith, pastor here at Eureka First UMC from 1996 to 2006, was the picture of robust physical health in January when many of us last saw him. He was diagnosed with cancer in April, preached his last sermon on Sunday, August 18 at Turlock United Methodist Church where he has been appointed for the past two years, and returned to his Eureka home just a little over a week before his death. Late Monday night he breathed his last physical breath at the relatively young age of 64, leaving family, friends, the Turlock church and many persons from the several churches he has served shocked at the news of his quick decline and death.
As I have been thinking of the sudden passing of Art and Pastor Charles, words from a song keep coming into my head: “the moment at hand is the only thing we really own.” (“On the Wings of a Dream,” John Denver) As the author of James said, we “do not even know what tomorrow will bring.” This truth should encourage us to make the best of every moment we have, to live our lives in fullness and joy, to not put off improving a relationship, following a dream, responding to the spirit of God present in every one of us. Here are more words from John Denver’s song: “So I listen to the voices inside me, for I know they are there just to guide me. And my faith will proclaim it is so, we are never alone.” We are indeed never alone. Our loving God is present in, through and all around us beckoning us in every moment that we have to receive love, joy and peace and to share that love, joy and peace with all with whom we come in contact.