While this is definitely not a verse found in the Bible, it is certainly a concept expressed in a number of different Scriptures, such as James 4:13-16: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (NKVJ) This Scripture, coupled with Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” certainly point to the grim reality of this familiar saying. These truths have certainly been underscored by various events of the past year or so.
Professionally, it is painfully clear none of us are guaranteed a safe return to our homes and families once we step out the door for our assigned shifts, regardless of where we work. This is particularly apparent in light of the obvious ‘war’ that has been declared against First Responders, by a, seemingly, ever-growing segment of our society. The uncertainty that pervades our lives is accentuated by fairly recent events that have received considerable media attention; each representing a slightly different aspect of this issue:
Suddenness – This is represented by the death of Officer Ashley Guindon, and far too many others like her, who was killed last February 27th while responding to a domestic disturbance in Virginia’s Prince William County. While we all know the potential dangers involved in every call we respond to, it is often when we are least prepared that we are confronted with sudden and unexpected violence that threatens, too often successfully, to take our lives.
Randomness – Last April Deputy Constable Clopton was shot in Houston, TX, as he was speaking with a fellow officer following an unrelated traffic stop. While he is expected to fully recover, any one of those bullets could easily have taken his life as was the case with Trooper Chad Dermyer who was killed by a stranger during a training exercise at a bus station in Richmond, VA.
On a personal level, the reality of this age-old maxim was driven home when a dear family friend died suddenly last February 10th. Although he had been battling leukemia, tests showed he was clear of the disease down to the cellular level since 2013. Apparently this was a particularly aggressive and rare form of leukemia which came roaring back with a vengeance. Within days of our being notified of his hospitalization, he was gone.
Common with any sudden death there are often sub-plots and unfinished business. In this instance, our friend frequently confided his regrets over the mistakes he had made in his relationships with his children, fully realizing there was no way to undo the past. However, he wanted to pick up the pieces and try to (re)establish relationships with them using the current reality as a baseline. Unfortunately, he never fully reached out to rebuild these relationships and work towards forgiveness and reconciliation until it was too late.
We all have something we need/desire to put to rights. Is it family relationships, health-related decisions, getting serious about our recovery from addictions or, most importantly, turning our lives and wills over to God? All too often life ‘gets in the way’ of our good intentions and we never get around to those items we need, or want, to address. Like my friend, it does not matter that we have the best of intentions if we fail to take action. As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” – yet another familiar saying that would appear to have been born of the realization that we are not promised tomorrow.
May we all avoid being like the rich man that Jesus taught about in Luke 12:16-21 who made great plans for his wealth and future life, disregarding the status of his soul, only to hear God say to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?”
Taking Every Thought Captive!
Recovery / Transition Chaplain