I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently.  No, not in a morbid way.  Rather, in an “alright, my days are numbered.  My time here in earth will be but a breath- a teensy blip on the radar of eternity.  So let’s do this thing and make it count” sorta way.

Because death, it just seems so inescapable these days.  One blow of bad news after another.  Another diagnosis.  Another last breath.  Just yesterday, it was the news of a sorority sister, all too young with so much ahead of her, who’s being transitioned to hospice care.  Because cancer just sucks so much I want to scream.

As painful as these reminders of life’s transient nature are- in the shock and grief and “but why, God?”s- they always cause me to pause and consider this life in a fresh kind of way.  With eyes that have known pain but also KNOW HOPE.  Life’s beauty and brevity.  The pain yet promise that this isn’t it.  That eternity awaits.

I think this is why I’ve been a bit of a hot mess recently.  As I consider my purpose and calling, I feel this mounting sense of urgency.  Because, as I look to my right and left and past and future, I see well-lived lives now gone.  Gone from this earth at least.  And I realize anew that I’m not promised another year, day, or breath.  Nor are my children.  My husband.  My friends.  So, far be it from me to see my days slip away wasted.  My God-ordained, seemingly-mundane moments squandered.

God doesn’t delight in cancer or in any other really sucky circumstance.  Jesus- God incarnate- wept when his friend Lazarus died.  He cried because He cared.  And still does.

But I do think that God sometimes chooses to use the hardest of circumstances to rouse me and to open my glazed-over eyes.  To shake me up a bit and remind me that “Hey, Catherine!  WAKE UP.  You don’t have long here.  These gifts and passions I gave you?  Use them.  See these people right in front of you?  Love them.  Enjoy this beautifully messy world here.  Enjoy ME.”

James doesn’t mince words when he says, “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)  In fact, if you were to hold this verse up to Tim McGraw, he’d probably tell us all to “live like you were dying.”  To go skydiving and climb mountains and check box after box off of one’s bucket list.  And that kinda sounds fun.  And maybe something I’d do.  (Minus the mountain climbing.  That seems a tiny bit too strenuous for my liking.  I’d rather eat candy.)

But what if we can best enjoy our lives here by first laying them down before God, proclaiming, “God!  Here! They’re all yours!  These days are beautiful and sometimes horrendous but mostly pretty awesome, and they’re YOURS.  And I don’t know how many of them I have left, but use them.  Maybe this will look like something big and fancy.  Or maybe it will look like glorifying you through cleaning up middle-of-the-night-all-over-the-sheets-kid-vomit.  Whatever.  Use them and use me till I’m spent, and then let me exit this world into the glories of Heaven, leaving behind a lasting aroma of YOUR goodness and YOUR mercy and YOUR grace.”

Sometimes this life is just straight up hard and things don’t make sense.  But, y’all, we have hope that God wins.  Love wins.  And living that out one messy day at a time sure beats the pants off of any bucket list there is.