Matters of Consequence

When I saw the red ipad on my father’s desk this afternoon my first thoughts were, whose was it? I wanted to touch and play with it. Only later did I learn that the ipad belonged to a church member who had died.

Then I was ashamed, because I had been thinking so much about luxury when one young life was gone.

I had never talked to her, but I had seen her at my church with her head covered with a brightly knit hat to cover the hair loss chemotherapy had caused.

I knew that she had recently finished her master’s degree at Columbia University and received her teaching certificate. An immigrant from China, her future was bright, until cancer overtook it. Her life was supposed to have ended two years ago, but God miraculously kept her living until today. In the interim she was baptized, and her father accepted Christ.

I was given the job of putting together the slideshow for her memorial service. I almost didn’t want to do it. For from the pictures I saw the life behind the woman who had just passed, her parents, her friends, her vacations. She was a girl just like any other girl, who was the bright hope of her parents.

I had to photograph her certificates, and there was the prized diploma from Columbia University. An honor, but now, by economic standards, worthless. For the bearer was more important than the document.

Yes, we are defined by our documents, but our documents have no value without us.

As a college student, I realized that that could be me, her parents could be my parents, and if my life, now so full of hope, would just end after graduation, what would be my legacy?

At the orthodontist’s office, the form asks “What is your primary concern – why are you here?” And outside of context I begin to wonder, what is my primary concern, why am I here? Of course, as a Christian, I can say: to live for the glory of God.

But the heart wants something more secure, something stronger, to prove that this being has worth in the world. And what is my true concern in this world?

I never really knew you. I heard others speak of your work for the Chinese school, and of the intense pain you suffered in the end. But your smile, your lively personality as it bubbles through your pictures and distorted ipad photo edits, show me who you were.

The internships, the relationships, the life problems I faced this morning matter little now. From her story, I realize that life is too precious to be wasted worrying over those trivialities. Now I know: To breakup means to forgive. To live means to rejoice. To die is to pass into the heavenly realm.

Love and cherish this life.

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