I'd never met him, but his name began popping up all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
He was the worship leader at a large nearby church. A husband. A father to two young sons and a young daughter. And yesterday morning he went out for a bicycle ride and never returned home.
The day before Thanksgiving? WHY? I wondered. Surely he and his family had plans of how they would spend the day of gratitude. Maybe they were going to attempt the madness of Black Friday shopping. They had just posted a picture of their children decorating the Christmas tree. He'd posted on his blog two days ago. Tweets and Instagram posts just hours before his accident. Just normal LIFE, you know?
And now he is in Heaven. Absent from body, present with God.
I'm shaken, although I never knew him. I'm startled by the reminder of the sheer brevity of life, the fragility of what we have here on this earth.
The news of a stranger passing is messing with me. I spent the day yesterday absolutely and inadvertently MISSING the three other ones in this house. Not because I wasn't here or because they weren't right here--(we were all within the same four walls all day)--but because I hardly shared a gaze with them while I spent hour upon hour working on Christmas presents for everyone.
Last night I read a bit about this man who passed away. Someone posted one of the last texts he'd received from this friend--a text full of encouragement and truth from the Word. I looked through picture after picture of time spent with his wife and three little ones. I read of story after story of a life lived on purpose.
I want that. I want to live carefully. And, oh Father God, I want to live on purpose. Your name, Your renown, the desire of my heart. I am crazy in love with Justin and our two sweet babies, but I want to live like I get that our days are numbered. I want them to know I was hungry for them to walk with Jesus, and that I lived my life to build into that for each of them.
I am not here for a laptop or an iPhone or even to knock out a Christmas list. I am here to do the will of the Father--and that so often happens in the context of relationships. With people. Primarily the ones He's entrusted to me.
A stranger changed my Thanksgiving.
Priorities realigned. Perspective renewed.
And if God gives me this entire day, I want to lay my head on the pillow knowing I lived it on purpose.
Praying for Courtnie, Noah, Halle and Carson.