Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans. That quote came to us from John Lennon. Tragically he learned that death also happens to you when you are making other plans. One mad gun man ended the life of the gifted musician. Today I learned of the death of a colleaque and friend in the television business. The truth of James is rocking my world today. “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (NASB) May I challenge you today to consider those words?
Jay Stinnett was a very talented camera operator. We have shared many laughs and covered a lot of bad baseball together over the years. He lived in Milwaukee and he often worked games with me at Comiskey Park in Chicago and County Stadium in Milwaukee. Both of those stadiums are gone and now my friend Jay is gone too after a tragic accident late last week. Unlike the song, not all rainy days and Mondays get me down. But this one does.
How do you reconcile the death of a 48 year man who loved his family and his friends? I have been knee deep in the mortality of my fellow human beings recently. My dear friend Trisha died in early January. Another television associate died unexpectedly in February. And now Jay Stinnett will no longer be lighting up dreary baseball games with his smile. That is what I remember most about Jay. That wonderful smile. And he was a pretty darn good camera operator as well. But we rarely talked about camera coverage and production. We talked about family and kids and life. And now he is gone. I had no idea that when I saw him a few weeks ago at Ameriquest Field in Arlington that I would not see him again on this earth.
Yesterday 50 souls boarded a plane for a routine flight to Atlanta. Forty-nine will never have a chance to see loved ones again. Even in the midst of Joni’s cancer journey I still take so much for granted. What does the tenuous nature of life mean to me? When we face the reality of our mortality how then should we live? I am trying by faith to live like Paul and Peter and John and the rest of the early followers of Christ. With an air of expectancy that tomorrow (or the rest of today) is not guaranteed. To live with a sense of priority and passion about what really matters. Do you have someone that you want to tell that you love them? Tell them now. Is there a relationship that needs repairing? Repair it now. Someone that you know you have to forgive? Please forgive them now by faith and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Still angry with a parent or sibling? Deal with it now. Have you slipped away from God for some reason? Come back now. And if you don’t know Jesus please ask Him to be real in your life.
What if I told you that you have exactly one week to live? Write down what you would do and what you would say in those precious seven days. And then start doing those things now. I know that not every recipient of such communications are receptive or even civil. But at the end of the day we are accountable before a Holy God only for our actions. They are accountable for theirs. Do the right thing and trust the rest to Jesus. In the time frame of eternity all of us will be going home very soon.
Part of the great comfort I felt when my Father died two years ago was knowing that everything that I wanted to say to him had been said. I believe that if something happened to me before I get to write another word that my sons would have that same peace. They know they are loved by me and I know I am loved by them. They know how proud I am of them as men and as followers of Jesus.
I wish you health and blessings. But my fervent prayer is that you will examine your readiness to peacefully leave this planet. I pray you will have the courage to say what you want to say and need to say. Make peace with those you feel a lack of peace with in your soul. What a wonderful way to prepare to meet your Savior face to face. Paul’s words to the church at Colosse offer a few thoughts on getting ready.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3 NIV
Satchel Paige was a great pitcher and a wise man. He said that we should all “work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching.” How different would our Christian lives be if we could trust God enough to love others like we’ve never been hurt? I wrote a blog earlier this year about what matters in life called The Good Stuff. Here is an excerpt from that piece.
Every day is a treasure. Every day that you can look into the eyes of those you love is a gift. Jesus knew what the good stuff was all about. He wasn’t a cosmic killjoy trying to keep us from pleasure. Jesus taught us what mattered.
- What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9 NIV
Loving your family. Having friends who will be there when things are rough. Knowing that you and those you love have a relationship with the living God. In the case of my friend Jay…knowing that you were respected, loved, admired, and that you will leave a hole that can never be completely filled. That’s the good stuff. Don’t let the world tell you otherwise.
If you wish to help a memorial fund has been established in Jay’s name and may be made out to:
The Jay Stinnett Memorial Fund
North Shore Bank
2465 Lineville Road, Suite 2
Green Bay WI 543l3