It happened again last Friday.
I have now been out of high school for 18 years, which means I have spent more years in “post-high school” years than I spent from birth through graduation (I was just 17 at graduation). Still, I am only 36 years old.
In May of 1995, I walked across a stage at Charles Bland Stadium in Dexter, Missouri to receive my high school diploma. While I don’t get back to Dexter for any length of time very often, I am proud to say I grew up there and went to school there. If my memory is correct, 157 people were in my graduating class from that small “Show Me State” town of about 8000 residents.
Most are now 36 or 37 years of age, and through Facebook we have been building up a growing list of friends in our group dedicated to our graduating class. Over 100 of that class are now in the group, and I am amazed at the interaction. We have graduates spread all over America (and beyond), and we are enjoying seeing pictures of spouses and kids, and just catching up with each other.
But one subject was brought up–again–in the group earlier this week. We learned that another of our fellow graduates had died. [Note: I am not going to share names in this post, and I ask that any from that group who might comment avoid using names, too.]
One of my fellow graduates had just completed designing a shirt for our class, and the back of the shirt listed the names of those who have died either while we were in high school or since. Now, she is going to have to change the design…again.
May I remind you that we are only in our 30s? And how many of that graduating class of just 157 have we lost?
Including a couple who died while we were in high school, eleven.
I am only 36 years old, and seven percent of my high school class is gone. What a sobering reality!
This post is not written as some type of “mid-life crisis” post. It is written because, as the news came to me on Facebook on Monday, it struck me hard. It made me realize, again, that I am not promised 70 or 80 or 90 years. Even if my family has “good genes” and many in my family have lived long lives, I am not promised that.
Solomon wrote words nearly 3000 years ago that go completely against our modern mindset, but should be seriously considered by everyone. Even if you are not a Bible believer, these words should cause you to think:
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2, ESV)
The Living Bible paraphrases the verse in a truly eye-opening way:
It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and it is a good thing to think about it while there is still time.
There is nothing wrong with “feasting” or “festivals.” We must have balance in our lives, and we need the positive interaction that comes at such exciting and happy occasions. So long as we remain faithful to what God has said, we need those joy-filled times. Even Jesus enjoyed time at a wedding feast!
But the end of our lives is certain. As the old saying goes, “No one is getting out of this life alive.”
I know we have quite a few readers of this blog who are my age and younger. Many 30-somethings and 20-somethings read these words. I am thinking especially of you today as I write, though we all need to consider these things.
Eleven people I walked high school halls with less than two decades ago are now in eternity. It is in my thoughts to consider whether I did anything–by word, example, or online conversation–to try to help them be prepared. That’s all I want in this life: to know Jesus and help others know Him, too.
I don’t know how many of that 157 were able to attend the visitation or funeral for our classmate, but I suspect some did. Quite a few still live in and around Dexter, and I have no doubt some took the time to remember and honor our classmate. They went to the “house of mourning,” and I’m certain their heart ached as they considered such a brief life.
But, in the end, whether we are granted just a few years or many, I must realize that my life is brief, too (read James 4:14; Job 8:9). We may use fancy phrases like “the brevity of life,” but we need to realize the truthfulness of the concept. Life, especially in view of eternity, could not be shorter. The real tragedy is that it takes such an untimely passing for some to realize it.
If you are not sure you are prepared for eternity, please contact us and let us help you any way we possibly can.
Photo credit: Thanks to my friend and classmate, Greg Pfeffer, for taking this picture for me on short notice.
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