Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet 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. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4:13-17)

Every person at some time in his or her life has dropped a stone in water. It may have been throwing rocks in a pond. It may have been skipping a rock on a river. It may have been dropping pebbles in a mud hole. The end result is always the same: the rock sinks, small or large waves radiate in a circle from the point of the rock sinking, and then in a few minutes all is calm and smooth again. It is as though the stone was never there.

Consider one other interesting observance in this fascinating phenomena: there is no visible hole. Unless it is a huge rock and a big splash, most people see no hole. Quickly, virtually instantly, water closes over the rock, and it is as though the rock never entered the water. You can see the rings of waves circling the entry point of the rock. You can, with a high degree of ease, guess the entry point of the rock. Yet, there is no hole!

When a death occurs, relatives and close friends may grieve a long time. There is a hole in their lives that cannot be filled. To them, there is an emptiness, a sense of loss that is visible every day. However, it is not so to people in general. Life, like water, quickly fills the void. Suddenly, to everyone else, there is no “hole.”

There are only waves moving away from the life that ceased a physical existence. If the waves are high enough, there can be disaster or healing in them. The waves Jesus’ death made are still rolling strong 2,000 years after he died. In those waves are hope—the hope of redemption, the hope of an existence that death cannot touch.

Years ago three friends shared much in their lives. One day one of the three suddenly, unexpectedly, died. The next morning one of the living friends drove down the street and past the home of the dead friend. When he reached his office, he called the other living friend and said in a sober voice, “Nothing has changed!” A life disappeared. A huge hole was left in two friends' hearts. Yet, life, unchanged, continued on.

All of us will die. Except for the few who were close to us, life quickly will cover us and move on. As time passes, most will forget we lived, rarely recalling our name. There is little most of us can do about that truth.

Yet, there is one thing. May the waves you leave behind give hope and not despair. May they bring abundance of purpose to others and not a meaningless existence. May people be blessed because you were.

In Christ, that is a possibility for all of us—no matter how big or small this world considers us to be. Make your life of lasting meaning to you and others by belonging to Christ!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 27 July 2006

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