I don't have much time, but my mom called tonight and told me that her older sister (the oldest of five), my Aunt Mitsu, is in the final stage of succumbing to cancer. She doesn't want to eat or take her medication, which are sure signs that the battle is over. Her battle has not been as long as some, but it has been long enough. Hospice care will arrive soon and begin their painful and precious ministry. My mom flies to New Jersey tomorrow to be with her. Mitsu is a committed believer, praise be to God. She is ending the years of her pilgrimage, and rounding that mysterious but sure corner that leads home. Her husband Sam, though, is a devoted Catholic. We used to be penpals when I was a boy, writing letters and sending each other baseball cards through the mail. My prayer is that the Lord might use those years of hand-written letters, along with the devastation of Mitsu's death, to give me an opportunity to speak to him about the righteousness of Jesus and the glory of free grace. Mitsu has lived in that grace, she is dying in it, and she will be saved by it. "Oh, to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be!"
A few years ago my mom lost her youngest brother, my Uncle Stevie, to cancer. He made what seemed to be a genuine profession of faith in Christ in his final months on earth. So now the youngest and the oldest will be gone.
I have three brothers — Ben, Mike, and Greg. I can barely imagine any of them dying. When I was a sophomore in college, Ben had a life-threatening, cancerous brain tumor the size of a tennis ball in the back of his head, but the grace of God was more than abundant, and He spared Ben's life. He is now about to turn 27 years old. Still, it is difficult to fathom my brothers dying. I imagine my mom thought the same kinds of things when she was my age. All of us naturally think this way, even if we've experienced the deaths of people very precious to us. So Moses reminds us as he speaks to the Lord:
You turn man back into dust
And say, "Return, O children of men."
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night. — Psalm 90:3-4
From God's perspective, a thousand years are like "yesterday." That's fast. If the speed at which a thousand years passes by in God's sight can be illustrated by the concept of "yesterday," how frail and fragile must we be! Mitsu's fifty-something years are nothing, and my twenty-four are less than nothing.
Tomorrow, this post will have been written yesterday. And yesterday cannot be taken back. What have you done with all your yesterdays? What will do with your today? For soon today will be yesterday and tomorrow will be today. And tomorrow will not be today for long, because just as quickly as tomorrow became today, today will morph into yesterday.
Life is not a game. It is deathly serious. It is to be lived single-mindedly and robustly for the One who has filled all our todays with grace, all our yesterdays with forgiveness, and all our tomorrows with promises. The time has come for Aunt Mitsu, and it will soon come for you.
Like I said: I don't have much time.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. — Psalm 90:12