Five months. That's how long we've been in Thailand.
Relatively-speaking, five months isn't a long. time. And yet, the unexpected can happen in a split second, reminding us of the uncertainly of our finite lives.
And why am I writing about this? Because, since we've been here, two important women in my life have passed away unexpectedly.
The first was a girlfriend from my Bible school days. She believed in me when I didn't even believe in myself. As a poet, she inspired me and re-ignited in me the joy of writing poetry. And as my friend, she saw past my goofy, I've-got-it-all-together, facade and loved me unconditionally. I learned from and through her, God's unconditional love for me. For that, I am forever grateful.
She'd been struggling with health issues much of her life--dealing with a debilitating, hereditary disease that made her legally blind as well as being diabetic. And yet, she rarely complained. I was always amazed at her faith and strength. Her trust in God. I hadn't seen her for a few years and was looking forward to seeing her this summer when we were travelling through her city. But then she fell unexpectedly and within a few days she was gone. I was shocked. And so sad--not for her because now she was free from her failing body and her pain. But sad for me--I thought we had more time.
Oh the uncertainty of time.
And, being on the other side of the world, prevented me from even considering going to her memorial in early April.
The second was my Mother-in-law who passed away just three days ago. When we left for Thailand in January, we had no idea she was sick. But the cancer was spreading through her bones and was officially diagnosed only 10 weeks ago. We called her that week, just to chat and ask how she was doing. She sounded good. Smiling. Positive. A past missionary herself, she asked about us and our work. She never wanted the focus to be on her.
Not surprising. That was how she was. Her faith was strong--always testifying to God's goodness and faithfulness.
But a week later, she had a stroke related to the cancer. She fought. But alas, between the cancer and the stroke, her body gave out.
That was only nine weeks ago. We thought we'd get home in time to see her but it wasn't meant to be. We FaceTimed her the day before she passed to say goodbye. My emotions were raw. I cried. I knew I would. But it was good to release her into the arms of Jesus.
And again, the uncertainty of time. Sometimes I wish I could dwell outside chronos i.e. quantitative or measured time so I could know life spans of myself and all those I love. But do I want to know? Really?
I don't think so. I think knowing would soon take over my life. It would become a god, an obsession.
And then I would miss out on experiencing all those Kairos moments in life i.e. the qualitative, "little taste of heaven," moments: A baby's first giggle. The first robin sighting in the springtime. The hug of an old friend.
And even saying good-bye to my dear Mother-in-law via FaceTime.
THESE are the moments that matter--the moments that remind us that life is a mystery to behold and revel in. Moments of wonder, given to us by a good and oh so kind Father God.
I am reminded of Kallistos Ware's words in his book The Orthodox Way:
"It is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of wonder."
Oh the wondrous and bountiful mystery of God, flooding our days with Kairos moments.
THESE are the moments I want to know. THESE are the moments I want to glorify God for!
SOLI DEO GLORIA!