I received a call not too long ago from a high school friend. We had spoken very little since graduation, but had kept up with each other somewhat through social media, and an occasional update from my parents. So I was surprised when my phone notified me one evening that a video call was coming in from him. Not only was the call a surprise, but the reason for his call left me heartbroken, and caused me great reflection on life.
John was a tall, athletic young man when we were in high school. He was the star of our men’s basketball team, and at 6’6” in both our junior and senior years, his presence on the court was commanding. Popularity for him came natural. But the way he handled that made many take notice. Including this teen. We didn’t have much in common, but we both had our faith, and that united us. Beyond the sports, and all the school activities, John was anchored in his faith in Jesus. And the way he treated others showed the depth of that faith. John was solid guy, mature beyond his years.
That night, when I answered his video call, my surprise turned into shock. And soon into the conversation, my shock turned to deep sorrow. John was calling to tell me goodbye. A week earlier he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that was eating away his brain and had been given just a few weeks to live. Because of that he was making the most of those weeks by connecting with those who had made a difference in his life, just to say thanks and to tell each of them bye. I happened to be one of those on his list to call. I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes even as I write this, as I think of a friend who lived life well, and was unafraid to die.
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” – James 4:14
I certainly don’t want to appear morbid. But in light of all eternity, this life we live on this earth is extremely short. A mist, as James puts it. The question that comes to my mind when I reflect on the impact of friend’s life well-lived, and an unexpected phone call one evening, is, what are we doing to truly make a difference in this mist we have been given? Sure, we can choose to chase the popularity of the crowd. We can achieve great athletic accomplishments. We can even have our name engraved on the “employee of the year” plaque in our company if we work hard enough. But to what cost? And who will remember those accomplishments a year after our mist is gone?
I can only speak for myself, but I want to live this short life in such a way that when my mist evaporates, the legacy of my faith in Christ will be remembered by the generations that follow. I have not been the best at that, but there is still time. I have today. I have right now, and so do you. Let’s start. Let’s make a difference. Our families need it. Our communities need it. Our world needs it.
If I were to rank the “wake-up calls” I have received in my life, John’s unexpected call that evening ranks as one of the top. The legacy he began as a teen lives on in my heart and mind even today. Truly, a life well-lived.
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