As we celebrate my daughter’s 16th birthday today, I am reminded once again of how swiftly time passes. It seems like yesterday when she was born. I remember all the little details…the first time I saw that sweet face, the way she smelled when the nurses returned her to me after a bath, the feel of that tiny bundle in my arms and the joy of knowing that I was finally a mother after so many years of longing.
And then a year passed, and the details of that first birthday are just as clear.
A day spent together, just she and I. A cold day for October. A day of doing just what we wanted to do…no work, no daycare. It was a day of reminiscing for me…back to the day of her birth. Little did I know that the next years would pass even more quickly, with lightning speed.
How could we have known of the changes and challenges that the next years would bring? How could we know anything of the losses, the heartaches, the joys and the pains? No one does. The future is uncertain, and in God’s hands. I can think of no other way to feel good about the future than to trust Him with it all. He knows what’s coming. And He is there for us every step of the way.
We don’t know what lies ahead, but shouldn’t we savor every minute? This life is not a dress rehearsal. We will not pass this way again. Children grow up. Loved ones pass on. Relationships change. Friendships come and go. The one things that remains is His love, and what we do with it. The love He has lavished on us should spill over onto everyone we come in contact with. And so, we love on the ones we love the most, as well as those who just need to be loved on.
For 16 years, I have been keenly aware that whatever stage we were in would not last forever. Such a strange mixture of happy and sad…loving life as it is, but looking forward to the future. Knowing you will miss what is now, even as you look to what is ahead.
Surely, He designed it to be this way. We should cherish every moment but look to the future with optimism too. If we know Him as our Savior, we have the assurance that no matter what this life holds, we have the promise of a home in Heaven, where life will be even sweeter than our most precious memories here on Earth.
So if you’re up all night with a fussy baby, or chasing a rowdy toddler, remember, it won’t last forever. If you’re up to your neck in your own chores when you have to stop to help with homework, remember, it won’t last forever. When you have a teenager with a smart mouth, remember, it won’t last forever. And there will be moments when that baby smiles up at you and your heart melts, or that toddler slows down long enough to hug you tight, and you can’t imagine anything better. And that kid who needed help with homework will walk across a stage to receive a diploma, and you will be proud enough to burst. And that sassy teen just might turn out to be your best friend. And you won’t even understand what you did right to deserve such a beautiful thing. We truly don’t “deserve” any of it. It’s just Grace…spilled out on top of more Grace. Unmerited favor. Don’t blink.
Each moment we are given between the time we are born and the time we die is a gift. We’re just here to learn to love Him and to share His love with others. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
He loves us enough to give us beauty all around when we take the time to notice. How can we look into the face of a newborn baby, or experience the wonder of His creation in nature, or witness the home-going of one of His saints and not realize that God loves us. He gave us all these wonderful things, and the pain that comes along with life on Earth is just to shape us into the person He wants us to be, and to make us long for our home in Heaven.
Spend time with the people you love. Spend time with your Heavenly Father. Let the little things go. There are so many things we stress over that really don’t matter. And remember… in the end, only what matters in eternity really matters at all.