Written by John Coulombe, Director of Development, Legacy Coalition
Editor’s note: As we get older, with doctor’s appointments dotting our calendars, and maybe even hospital visits and stays, contemplate these soul-searching and heart-rendering thoughts from John. Above all, are you ready to meet your God? Have you passed on your story – your faith journey – so those behind you know where you are going? Will you see them again? Let’s take this time of our lives very seriously and use it for God’s glory and the good of our children and grandchildren. It may be summertime according to the calendar, but it is the winter of our lives.
While lying in a hospital bed at St. Jude in August of 2006, I was given the privilege of time to re-evaluate my life and life’s work.
I discovered that when one’s body is broken, many values change: that which was so important no longer is; and that, which meant so little, strangely means so much.
In the middle of the night, I spent some precious moments reviewing my outlook on life—and death.
When I woke up the next morning I wrote them down, realizing opportunities to think like this are rare and greatly stimulated by being at and in this kind of place.
Here are some of those musings:
1. God is in control. I’m not.
- Trust Him. Ps.115:3.
2. God is not in a hurry. I am. You’re a patient, so be patient.
- Slow Down. Matt. 6:25-34.
3. Center your heart on the Lord’s, rather than on your own broken-down heart, John.
- Focus on Him. Col. 3:1; Phil. 4:6-7.
4. In the hospital there are always people worse than you. Reach out with a word if you can . . . the man dying a few rooms up . . . people groaning and crying out in the night with pain . . . those too weak to get out of bed.
- Pray for them. Rom. 12:9-21.
5. The continuum of life is always present in a hospital. I heard Brahms Lullaby in the hallways each time a baby was born, and there were little groups of people singing God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again and I Come to the Garden Alone in the rooms of their dying loved ones.
- Celebrate both life and death. 1 Cor. 15.
6. Be grateful for small things, like when you can empty your own ‘water’ unassisted!
- In everything give thanks, with joy. 1Thess. 5:16-18.
7. Consider how good it is to have a life partner and friends who care, who sit quietly by your side, kiss you when you’re unlovely, sneak in treats, and walk alongside you in the hallways in those embarrassing gowns.
- Never take friendship for granted. Rom. 12:10-13; Rom.16; 2 Cor.7:5-7.
Another insight/end-sight: those hospital gowns are like insurance policies—neither covers you as well as you think!
8. It’s time to make preparations to clean up and pull together the papers, the will, the photos, the details of our lives, both for here and the life to come. Is there anyone whom I need to forgive and make things right?
- Get it together. 1 Cor. 14:33.
- Prepare to meet your God. Amos 4:12.
9. Someone needs to set the clocks, work the PDA, VCR, DVR, DVD, A/C, computer, sprinklers, balance checkbook, wash clothes, cook, lube car…
- Teach one another how—now.
10. No matter how inept hospital personnel and doctors can be at times, remember—you could be somewhere much worse.
- Be grateful for what you have. Phil. 4:11-14.
11. Enjoy the little things in life: a cup of Starbucks coffee smuggled in by friends, a real strawberry milkshake with whipped cream and a cherry on top from Jack-in-the-Box.
- Savor the moments and drink slowly.
12. Don’t waste the precious pressures or stresses or try to get back to normal too soon.
- Let the pressures conform you, transform you, and make you more Christ-like. 2 Cor. 4.
13. Keep finding your sense of humor and joy. It’s better than some of the meds you’re taking!
- Be Happy. Prov. 17:22: A cheerful heart is good medicine.
14. Be patient, and hospitable with the hospital personnel who care for you throughout the long days and nights—even though they may not do it perfectly.
- Be kind. 1 Cor. 13:4; Eph. 4:32.
15. And finally: Above all, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life!
- Guard your heart! Prov. 4:23.
Winter in All of Our Lives
There is a winter in all of our lives,
a chill and darkness that makes us yearn
for days that have gone
or put our hope in days yet to be.
Father God, you created seasons for a purpose.
Spring is full of expectation
frosts abating and an awakening
of creation before the first days of summer.
Now the sun gives warmth
and comfort to our lives
reviving aching joints
bringing colour, new life
and crops to fruiting.
Autumn gives nature space
to lean back, relax and enjoy the fruits of its labour
mellow colours in sky and landscape
as the earth prepares to rest.
Then winter, cold and bare as nature takes stock
rests, unwinds, sleeps until the time is right.
An endless cycle
and yet a perfect model.
We need a winter in our lives
a time of rest, a time to stand still
a time to reacquaint ourselves
with the faith in which we live.
It is only then that we can draw strength
from The One in whom we are rooted
take time to grow and rise through the darkness
into the warm glow of your springtime
to blossom and flourish
bring colour and vitality into this world
Thank you Father
for the seasons of our lives.
– Author Unknown