Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14)
As I reflect on the celebration and sorrow this weekend holds, I ask myself, “Am I marking the passage of time, or am I looking to mark the time of my passage?” There truly is a difference and the two events ever entwined in a single day of my life eleven years ago. The verse from Ecclesiastes really took hold on that day, the nineteenth of November in 2000. Many of you know the stories either because I have told them or because you were a part of them. But this year, based on where the journey has taken me, I’m pulled back through this lens once again.
It was a Sunday afternoon with the celebration only a one-year-old birthday can entail. And then the phone calls started coming. In the middle of our joy, we reached out as Mike slipped from this life into the next quietly and in the company of family. My sister-in-law Bobbie graciously held the memorial service on a Saturday so we could all make our travel arrangements more easily (it was Thanksgiving weekend and I would fly out there on a Friday). As we hugged and said goodbye when I left her house a couple days later, she told me, “You need to finish Mike’s book.” I sat on that request for several years until this blog (and the books I’ve drawn from it) were born.
This past week, I’ve taken the challenge of listening multiple times to a message from author Donald Miller that is the primary reason for my revisiting the origins of the Crooked Path. Miller speaks candidly about the story of Joseph and uses the literary device of a story line to describe the positive and negative turns our life stories take. In the midst of that, he draws attention to our God who is in the business of redeeming even the most negative of the turns and bringing glory to Himself as a result. And Joseph’s life is just such a story - it is a beautiful story which is, as Miller puts it, “full of pain”.
And so, I find myself thinking about my own life and the positive and negative turns. They don’t always come in such rapid fashion as they did on that day shared with my daughter and my brother, but they do come. In considering both the positive and negative turns (but especially the negative ones), I ask myself,
“Am I merely marking the passage of time? Am I just living life from event to event without much thought to how they connect and what God is doing? Or am I marking the time of my passage, looking to make sure that God is seen and my life is remembered as one that presented a clear view of His story told through me?”
Life on this Crooked Path will be filled with joy and pain. I want to live the kind of life and walk the path in such a way that people will say, “He died too young” even if it happens when I’m 100. I want to live well for all the right reasons. I want to tell a story that people will remember. And I want to watch God redeem the negative turns because that is exactly what He does.