Life's Unpredictable Moments

Many in our area have been recovering from storms that raged through numerous communities last week. Straight-line and even tornadic winds unleashed destruction with a force ranging from 80-120 mph. This powerful act of nature yanked down soft silver maple tree branches upon houses and properties as it severed power poles at their bases like they were toothpicks. The damage was random, but extensive. Many homes lost power for hours, days and now, over a week!

We fared much better than many. Our power was only off for a few hours. We lost two large twelve to fifteen-foot limbs. One came resting upon our six-foot fence and the other sailed right for our picnic table denting the tabletop and shoving it into the side of the garage. There was only minimal damage to the table support, a nearby downspout, and the westside soffit. We were lucky. Some of our neighbors reported that large branches had penetrated their roofs like a spear!

I have some mature trees that shed numerous branches throughout the spring and summer storm season. While I am used to regular "stick detailing," this was a little more intense. As I was cleaning up the front yard and mowing yesterday, just after our village had come by to load up the processed branches into their dump truck, I noticed a brightly colored pick-up truck out in the driveway. I thought it was just a friend dropping by for a chat. It was a friend who was in the throes of grief.

The conversation was casual at first and then this friend dropped a bomb announcing that “the love of his life” and one of Monique’s best friends had just passed away. I was stunned to hear the news as he just blurted it out! I had to ask him to repeat what he had just said. We hugged and then proceeded into the house to share the details behind the sad news with Monique who was cooking lunch. Soon, we all had tears in our eyes. The world stood still for the next hour or so along with every other activity of our lives. We tried to process the shocking news that this beloved friend had succumbed to her months-long battle with several challenging illnesses.

We shared our stories as we sat on bar stools around the kitchen counter. Monique had just spoken with this dear friend Sunday on the way home from church. And now only two days later, she had passed away. We knew her condition was serious, but she continued to have a “forward look” during the call. There were so many things she wanted to do. We thought that she would be able to fight this back as she had other cancers in past years. It was not to be so!

After our sharing time and prayer, we tried to return to some chores at hand. Our minds were full of memories of numerous visits, lunches and times spent doing life together. The reflections and emotions ran between thanksgiving for that last phone visit to feelings of anger at the news that another cherished individual had been swept away from family and friends far too soon! We were dealing with the ebb and flow of raw grief.

One important lesson has come to my mind these days. It is about the matter of the brevity of life. It is too short for my liking! I know this is selfish, but I want things to remain the same, especially for my lifetime! Yet, there is a blessed Psalm ascribed to Moses that gives perspective to life and losses. Moses frames the brevity of our lives against the Sovereignty of Creator God. The Bible gives us a reality check that acknowledges, “Long before you gave birth to the earth, and before the mountains were born, you have been from everlasting to everlasting, the one and only true God. When you speak the words, ‘Life, return to me!’ man turns back to dust.” (Psalms 90:2-3, TPT).

In this same Psalm, there is another sobering lesson about how quickly things can change for us in this life. This should be our daily prayer to God, “Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us interpret our lives correctly. Set your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept your correction.” (Ps. 90:12). We, too often, live with the presumption that we’re going to live forever, and that death is something only others experience. We need to be prepared for our own parting. Jesus is the way to eternity! We need to be in proper relationship with Him as our Lord and Savior so that when God says, “Return to me,” we’ll be ready to meet Him.

Storms come and go, and so do we. I’m not trying to be morbid! This life has meaning, but it is short, and it certainly is not all that there is! The Eternal God knows the future and the time of our passing is in His hands. The Lord commands us to live within His purposes until He calls us home. Make those timely visits and calls to family and friends today. Give those hugs “early and often!” Don’t postpone those expressions of love and encouragement. If you wait until tomorrow, you may miss that opportunity all together!

Life is likely to catch you off guard sometime soon. It’s full of unpredictable moments! What do you need to do today to make your life count for God and others?

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.





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