Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Live Fast

I was listening to some great Keith Green music.  I love his songs.  His passion and zeal shine through in his lyrics, and when I sing along with him, I am inspired to follow the Lord without compromise.  His life was short.  He was killed in a plane crash, along with two of his children, at age 28.  He left behind a pregnant wife and one more little one, and a legacy of speaking the truth through music:

"The world is sleeping in the dark,
that the church just can't fight,
because it's asleep in the light.
How can you be so dead
when you've been so well fed?"

Conviction and inspiration, all from a life- though brief- lived well, lived passionately, lived fast.

For some reason, that made me think about how short Bryan's life was.  Just 44 years, and he was a Christian for less than half of that time.  And yet he accomplished so much and touched so many.  He lived fast.  He packed as much as he could into his short life, and I think there's a lot to be learned from his example.

Bryan, you see, was busy, very busy.  He had a job, a family (a big one!), and all of the usual "responsibilities."  And yet somehow, he still managed to teach Bible studies, plan and lead Passover Seders, teach Sunday school, lead AWANA at our church (a Sunday night Bible memory club), and invite people to our home for celebrations and fellowship.  Then, of course, there were the comments he'd make that made people wonder what on earth he read in his spare time (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Justin Martyr, and the like.)

He did all of that while dealing with chronic pain.   Some nights before Bible study, when his ankles hurt so badly that he could barely walk,  I can remember him debating whether or not he should rearrange the room so that he could sit instead of stand.  He usually stood.  One afternoon before a large Passover Seder at our home, he went to the emergency room to get a splint for his wrist.  (Collapsed joints are very painful.)  He had every reason to take it easy.  Oprah would have told him to practice saying no and work in some more "me time."  And no one would have blamed him if he had chosen that path.

But Bryan felt blessed to have so many opportunities to share the zeal he had inside.  He would say, "Well, you've got to do something with your life."  How often do we forget that we're supposed to be doing something with our lives?  How often do we say, "I'm just so busy.  I need to slow down"?

And maybe we are too busy.  But there's a good chance that we're busy doing the wrong things.  We turn down the opportunities for service that are meaningful and eternally enduring, and absorb ourselves in little distractions that won't matter much in the end.  Plus, there's always the chance that we're stronger than we think, capable of doing more than we think we can, if we just choose to follow the passion that God has given us.  Are we squandering years that may turn out to be all too short?

God hasn't called us to an easy path, a path with lots of time to pursue idle pastimes.   He's called us to serve, to reach out, to think carefully about what we can do to impact those around us.  And when we do things for His glory, He gives us the strength, even if it seems impossible at the outset.

A few months before he died, Bryan asked me, "Honey, do you think we can do a public Seder at church again this year?"  I was kind of surprised he asked.  I figured he would have taken it for granted that we would.  (When Justin was born two weeks early, he said, "Oh good, we can invite some people over at Passover.  He'll be 6 weeks old!"  We had 20 guests that year.)  I asked him why he was asking me, and he said, "Because I know it's hard, and I don't want you to do it if you don't think you can."

It's true.  It was hard.  We were busy.  We had an infant and six other kids under ten.  Bryan was putting in long hours at work.  By all the standards of this world, I should have said, "No, it's too much."  But I knew how much it meant to him.  I knew that God had placed a burning desire inside of him to share the wonder of the Word.  And I didn't say no, I said we'd make it work.

And that was his last Seder.  Was it worth it?  I think so.

Walk as children of light...
Redeem the time,
because the days are evil.
- from Ephesians 5:8,16

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