Last night I attended a candle light vigil with about 2800 others in memory of Garrett Uekman. Many of you already know of Garrett’s death. He died in his University of Arkansas residence hall on Sunday morning. Garrett was a nineteen year old sophomore and a tight end on the Razorback football team.
Being in the service last night brought a lot of thoughts to mind. I’m in my thirtieth year of ministry to college students and I have set through or spoken at more of these services than one might think. Many faces passed through my thoughts. We have had student deaths that have been the result of disease or accident. Others have been the result of violence, either at their own hands or the hands of someone else. None have been easy and all are reminders that life is fragile and temporary and not to be taken for granted.
I also thought about these truths.
We need to live life thoughtfully. I love these words of Paul:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16
The idea behind these words is not to live fearfully, but purposefully. The image is of a tightrope walker, making sure each step is precise – right where it should be. It is the image of intentionality, of purposefully making the most of every opportunity, not letting any slip by because we aren’t paying attention or are distracted by the lesser things around us.
We need to live life fully. Jesus told us:
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
We need to live life lovingly. Again, the words of Jesus:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
Ultimately, what we leave behind is what we have invested in the lives of others – the love we have shown to them. Money and success have their advantages, but the investment we make in the lives of others – the love we share, say, and demonstrate – is what will shape the lives of others.
We need to live life with a bigger perspective. One final thought from Jesus:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
Invest yourself in the things of God, in the things that last. So much of what we value is temporal and won’t last the next ten years, let alone into eternity. Invest yourself in the things of God, in the lives of people, in the things that will leave a mark on eternity.
Ultimately, this kind of life can only be lived by being in a relationship with Christ and abiding in him on a daily basis. That is the starting point for the life that God desires for us, for the life that our hearts desire.