Close Calls

It’s been quite the week, huh? In processing and thinking about all the terrible things that have happened this week, I realized just how many times I have encountered death over the past month. None of them have involved me personally being in harm’s way. But each of them has struck close to home and reminded me how short life is. Let me explain…Four weeks ago, I ran the half marathon at Baylor’s annual Bearathon event. As I got close to the finish line, I noticed someone laying on the ground, surrounded by people. A race volunteer was directing people to run on the right side of the course to avoid him. I finished the race and wondered what was going on, but didn’t want to be rude or get in the way by trying to look.I found out later that afternoon that the man died at the hospital. It was one of those rare occasions where someone drops dead at the end of a race for no apparent reason. His name was Daniel Jones. He was a 23-year-old senior at Baylor, and the preliminary autopsy gave no explanation about why he died. It was a surreal feeling, knowing that I had run right past him, and he had just completed the same race as I had.

The following weekend, I was at my parents’ church for Easter. Toward the end of the service, a man suddenly passed out. Apparently he had been having trouble with high blood pressure, and it had been a stressful week. Thankfully, there was a nurse in the building and it wasn’t actually a heart attack. However, for a few minutes, that’s what everyone thought it was. Hearing his wife and kid sobbing in the back of the sanctuary was terrifying. I couldn’t move. Even though I didn’t know the guy, I felt like sobbing also.

Being in such close proximity to almost two deaths within the space of a week shook me. It was a very real reminder that I am not guaranteed tomorrow, or even the next hour. However, after mulling over that for several days, I honestly forgot about them and continued on with life.

And then this week, I was confronted yet again with my mortality.

Although I was not close in proximity to the bombings in Boston, it hit close to home because I am a runner. I have run many road races over the past three years, and am constantly reading about the honor of “qualifying for Boston.” I had been watching the race live Monday morning, cheering for two of my favorite distance runners, Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan. It could have just as easily been me at that finish line.

On Wednesday came the explosion in West, where I was once again semi-close in proximity. I found myself once again reminded of how fragile life is. Here I am, worrying about whether or not I will have a job in four months when I move to Colorado. And yet, there is no guarantee that I will even be alive then. What if I am wasting my time right now worrying about a job, when I should be spending that time as if it’s my last day on earth? If I knew this was my last day, what would I be doing right now?

So, my prayer as I continue processing these events is that God will use these experiences to remind me of what is truly important. That I will leave each day in the moment, not worrying about tomorrow, doing things that actually matter.

Rather than being frightened by recent events, let’s remember that ultimately, God is control of how many more breaths we take. And in the meantime, our responsibility is to live life to the fullest, and show Christ’s love to as many people as we can.

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