I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived.(David Thoreau)
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. (Jesus of Nazareth)
When people speak of the life of a missionary, often the idea of sacrifice is discussed. While there is a cost to doing anything that has genuine value, there is great benefit as well. When I think of my nearly 19 years as a missionary, at the top of my benefit list is the joy I experience by being part of an international community. I have had the priceless privilege of developing deep and continuing relationships with many people from many countries. It is an indescribable and life-enhancing blessing.
In 1995, while serving with YWAM in New Zealand, Patty and I made the transition from student trainees to become sure enough missionaries on an active mission’s base. Part of our duties was to run a small group of discipleship training students. Malcom and Pamela, New Zealanders were part of that group. Our relationship with them and their children moved quickly to a deep lasting friendship, with visits from them when we lived in Tasmania and Thailand. Malcom is a good man, a farmer, a man of the earth, a doting husband and affectionate father. And then there was Pamela. Pamela, with a mile-wide smile, a mischievous sparkle in her eyes and the ability to savor the moment like few people I have ever seen. Pamela’s presence always filled the room. Pamela’s thirst for life was constant, her passion clear and apparent and her ability to love deeply was obvious. Pamela’s demonstrated message: live deeply, live passionately and live in the moment. More about Pamela in a moment.
Friday night we shared the birthday celebration of 24 year old Jason, the son of a family that we love dearly. This young man, just weeks away from his college graduation, is one we have had the privilege of knowing and watching him grow from a boy to a man. As a kid he was some mischievous combination of Dennis the Menace, Tom Sawyer and an Explosives Demolition Expert and one who was always ready to “give it a go” as the Aussies say. My question to Jason around the table was; “at 24 what life message have you learned?” His thoughtful answer: “Savor the moment”.
Early the next morning, with my young friend’s comment still fresh in my mind I checked my e-mail. Pamela had been battling cancer. Rallied by her amazing husband and three beautiful daughters she continued to live with a love and zest for life through difficult surgeries, invasive treatments and pessimistic reports. Pamela’s journey on this planet ended last week and she is now savoring an eternal moment that will never end and is filled with a joy unspeakable. Her message of life, love and passion lives on.
I do not want to paint an unrealistic picture of Pamela. She lived in the real world, she had struggles and challenges. Just like the rest of us. Pamela had her share of pain, disappointments and wonderful amazing moments. Just like the rest of us.
But at some point early in Pamela’s life she made a discovery and she made a choice. The same discovery and choice my young 24 year old friend has made. The same choice that Jesus offers us as we discover an opportunity for real life in Him.
Life is determined by our choices: to forgive or to be bitter, to grow or to stay stagnant, to recognize the Lord’s provision with gratitude or to focus on our perceived lack, to love or to play it safe, to hold on to and rehearse our list of disappointments or to let a new chapter of life be written, to say yes even when it’s scary or to say no and live in regret, to repent and be transformed or to harden our hearts and live small, to make changes or to make excuses, to embrace truth and experience growing freedom or to deny truth and live restricted, to blame others or take responsibility (stewardship) for your life, to accept others as they are or to criticize and judge, to know we desperately need a Savior or to be our own small deity, to know ourselves to be dearly loved children of the Father or to deny it, to live in the moment and savor it, or to miss the moment by living in the regrets of the past and the fears of the future.
Pamela chose wisely.