Almost 10 years ago I sat in the exam room. The doctor took out his pen and began elaborately drawing all over the paper covering the table…my mind for the life of me cannot conjure up the image, but I’ll never forget his words. “They (our babies) won’t survive it was never intended for them to live this way. I recommend you end the pregnancy I don’t know what else to say they will both die….sorry”. The door closed and the breeze from the air conditioner ruffled through my paper gown. In the blink of an eye, the time it took for him to uncap his pen everything had changed.
I write this having just witnessed a blink of the eye moment in the life of my sister. Today she became a mother- just like that her little love entered the world and changed everything. Such joy, such love, such emotion and suddenly with one push life will never look the same. Just since we’ve been on our home assignment we’ve had the privileged of being present in people’s lives. Part of being present is that you are there when life suddenly changes. Some of those changes were filled with joy, a long hoped for pregnancy, an engagement, the arrival of a new baby, a new job, healing. In the blink of an eye joy overflowing. Others have been heartbreaking, a medical diagnosis, financial devastation, loss of a job or identity, loss of life, cancer.
Just as quickly as my eyes filled with joy as I hold my nephew for the first time, they have filled with tears as I’ve learned a sweet friend has passed away, or as another dear one shared her diagnosis with cancer. Just like that, in the blink of an eye everything changes.
J– and I can look back on our lives and see such quick sudden changes. When he proposed just like that our lives started knitting their path together. In that simple yes everything changed. When we first found out we were pregnant, that day when the doctor uncapped his pen, the birth of our five beautiful children, the death of our firstborn. Then there was our decision to join SIM, our denied visas into Sudan, our move to Melut, illness, war, moving to North Africa….so many things that happened swiftly and forever altered our lives moving forward.
Perhaps it has been watching and praying with two friends as they received news of their cancer that has me contemplating this blink of an eye. One day I was thinking of sending purple tulips to the hospital with a note and the next, she was gone. One day enjoying a date talking about parenting, loving our husbands and prayer, and the next phone call a hard diagnosis. In the blink of an eye everything changed.
It has me thinking about how to live my life not in dread, or hope of these moments that change it all, but rather in anticipation that they will continue happening, to me, to those I love, for good and for bad. And it is how we live our lives in between those blinks that dictates what life looks like moving forward after they’ve happened. This is how my friend Becky lived her life. So often her emails I re-read and I find myself marveling at how with each blink, joy filled and sorrow filled she sought God. Thanking him for the good, leaning in faith into the “bad” and above all trusting God with and unknown future. It is how she lived her life in between the blinks of her life that ultimately dictated how each joyful and tragic change would be handled and because she sought the Lord in between each blink of life her death even pointed to him.
I don’t know what lies around the corner, oh sure, we have plans….We have plane tickets booked, we are returning to East Africa in early January, we have a due date to welcome our much anticipated child sixth child into our family, we have plans to find and rent an apartment and car before baby comes, my homeschool books are all lined up in the wall of our school room “planned out” for the next three years but the reality is that we don’t know when the next life changing moment in our lives will be, or whether for us it will be filled with unspeakable joy or deep sadness. But as I hold plans lightly I am trying to live my life in such a way that seeking God becomes the primary focus, knowing Him and leaning into the grace he provides for obedience today. For I truly believe it is in today’s obedience we find strength for the unexpected joys and trials of tomorrow. I am praying for grace to live faithfully in between the “blinks”.