An extremely rash and foolish assumption people make is that tomorrow will arrive and they will be part it. This arrogant presumption can, with no warning, become a burden of regret. The consequences of making such an assumption may be great or trivially unnoticed. It is not unexpected that adolescents commonly assume such, as do many “adults,” and I was no different in my youth. “Tomorrow” was something I banked on and regret became the currency.
When I was 15 or so, a small white-haired elderly man wearing an old but well-kept black suit, white shirt and very thin necktie faithfully attended our church every Sunday. Those in the church affectionately referred to this five feet tall widower as Brother Allen. Time, scoliosis and arthritis stole his freedom of movement, freezing his neck in a downward looking posture. His gate, slow and deliberate, appeared as though he was looking for something on the ground. Every Sunday, with cane in hand, he made his way to the same pew near the front of the church.
Brother Allen was soft-spoken having a gentle disposition. He would turn his entire body to face you to speak with to you, with eyes and smile leading the turn. His hushed voice and inviting smile would without intent draw you to his eye-level. When he shook your hand you knew you were in the presence of someone special.
On occasion he was called to fill the pulpit when the pastor was absent or to end the service in prayer. When Brother Allen prayed, a stillness enveloped the congregation. His extemporaneous prayers were pure poetry. You could sense the peace and warmth of the Holy Spirit when he prayed.
Most were drawn to him regardless of age. He told the most amazing and colorful stories provided you took the time to listen. Brother Allen spoke in vivid word-pictures taking you back into his past, in a time when worship was not a service on Sunday but how one lived. While it was not common to see Jr. High and High School kids gather around him, those of us that took the time to stop to speak with him, and more importantly listen, were truly blessed. His face and demeanor are unforgettable.
One Sunday night after church we returned home to prepare for the next school week. That night decided I must make time to tell Brother Allen how special he was. Next Sunday passed, and then another, and another, and another.
One evening the phone rang and my mom answered. The news came. Brother Allen died, and went home to be with The Lord. Sadness and guilt engulfed me. My youthful self-centeredness kept me from taking the time to tell him how much I appreciated him. This was one of those “teachable moments” in a young man’s life. I paid for my procrastination with a large sum of regret, add to that, I disappointed G_d. It still saddens me today to know I gave up an opportunity to do something honorable for a kind old man in exchange for trivial things I can’t even remember. It was a hard lesson to learn.
Today, I try to grasp every opportunity to let those making a positive difference in my life know that I appreciate their kindness, thoughtfulness and love.
- When you appreciate a beautiful smile offer offered to you, tell them.
- When you admire someone for a difficult decision they had to make, tell them.
- When a stranger does something nice to help make your day just a little better, tell them.
- When your life is improved because a loved-one cares about you, tell them.
- When you are at peace because someone comforted, tell them.
- When you are better because someone challenged a poor decision, tell them.
The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:8-9 – 8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
“Dwell on these things.” “Practice these things.” Easier said than done with life’s craziness. Remember these are not suggestions or recommendations, they are commands. Memorize them. Pray them. Make them part of your mindset. I still remind myself that tomorrow belongs to G_d, not me and to act accordingly. Bless those special people He brings into your life at a special time and tell them, “You made a difference.”
You may not have a second chance.
Be well and be blessed,