Today my friend’s husband died. No, I take that back. He wasn’t just my friend’s husband; he was my friend too. He was everybody’s friend. It didn’t matter who you were. Whether you were popular, looked good or smelled good, young or old, in the church or in the community—he loved them all.
As I sit here in the quietness of my living room, memories of him come flooding back. The care and compassion he extended to others. His laugh and smile, even when he was hurting or weak or sick. The way he worked beyond his strength to provide for his family, to ensure they were cared for. His beautiful wife and two precious daughters, the younger only 8. How do you prepare your girls for something like that? How do you tell them Daddy has died? How do you shield them from growing up too quickly?
Some days, as life rushes by, I wonder if I’ve taken time for what’s really important.
Oh, God, why does it hurt so much?
My friend had desperately needed a heart transplant. Toward the end it was his only hope, but then he became too weak to handle it after all. Somehow he clung to life, to hope, to Jesus Christ. Seeking to encourage others, always smiling and saying, “I’m OK,” he walked through life with one hand firmly grasped in Jesus’ hand and the other encircling his family and reaching out to encourage others along the way. What an example he had given. What a picture of self-sacrificing love. What a warrior he was!
He possessed an incredible gift of music; arranging, conducting, recording, and especially playing the piano. Often I would sit in church and close my eyes as I listened to the message that came straight from his soul, touched the keys, and reached deep into my heart. Why was his life cut short? Why did he have such a short time on this planet we call home?
I don’t know the answers, but I do know this: he was ready. Years ago he’d made his choice for God. Every time I spoke with him I saw evidence of a surrendered life, of a heart at peace with God and others. In just a short time we’ll hear the voice of the Life-giver call out his name. A mighty earthquake will rend the earth, and the graves will open. He will come forth with a perfect heart, a perfect body, the picture of health. What a joyful reunion that will be!
I believe that many will be in heaven because of my friend. Because of the life he lived. Because of the way he suffered. Because of the Jesus who shone out of him. So as I sit here, I wonder, Could that ever be said of me?
Some days, as life rushes by, I wonder if I’ve taken time for what’s really important. To pause and smell a flower and thank God for its beauty. To stop and hear the cry of a child and pray for God to bring comfort. To reach out a hand and encourage a struggling brother or sister on the way. After all, when I reach the end of my life, few things will really matter. Only this: did I love Jesus? Did I live for Him? Did I help others find Him?
So, tonight, the cry in my heart is simple: Oh, God, use me!
Jill Morikone is administrative assistant to the president of 3ABN, a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband, Greg, live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.