This weekend, I had one of the weirdest experiences of my life. What was it, you might ask? It was attending my 10-year high school reunion.
As my wife and I entered the clubhouse, we were greeted by classmates I have not seen in a decade. First it was the feeling of awkwardness, not knowing what to say when you haven’t talked to them in ten years. Then the feeling of surprise and excitement of meeting up with old friends who were more cordial and accepting than you anticipated. Then the feeling of guilt because of not doing a good job of keeping in touch with the friends you grew up with your entire life.
One the way home, my wife and I discussed some of the things that stuck out in our mind. There were some who had lost a lot of weight and some who had gained a lot of weight. Some were still single while others had married, had children, divorced, and married again. And yes, there was some of the same stuff you experienced in high school (you know what I am talking about). However, as the night came to a close and I lay awake in bed, what struck me the most was not the outer appearance of others or multiple status changes; rather my focus was on me and the inner change God has brought in my life over the past ten years.
I asked myself, “Can ten years of personal absence overshadow the work of God in my life to conform me to be more like Jesus Christ? Will my classmates be able to see this in the short window of time that I had and more than likely will not have for another decade?” These questions plagued my mind.
The deeds of darkness were apparent, but perhaps what was most apparent was a snapshot of what was not there. During the middle of the night, the class officers took to the microphone to mention some things on the program such as senior mottos and quotes and list off the Who’s Who. As the last speaker grabbed a list, she called for a moment of silence and sobriety in the midst of partying and drunkenness. She then proceeded to call out about a dozen names of fellow classmates who had died over the past ten years. Some were taken through car accidents, others to cancer, tumors, and other diseases.
When we last departed from that graduation ceremony in 1997, we had no idea who would not be here in 2007. I think I can make the presumption that none of us imagined that it would be that many of us perish so soon. For the rest of the night, I met other classmates and listened to hear about their lives, what they were doing, where they were living, and how they hoped to be happy in this life. In the midst of such festivity and frivolity, my heart began to sink as I was grieved over the fact that so many of them did not know or treasure Jesus Christ. So many were still alive, yet they were dead in their sins. So many were living it up, but were wasting it away.
Scripture tells me that life is a vapor (James 4:14) and that we are but grass that withers away. These past ten years indeed have flown by, but in light of eternity, this life is but a passing moment weighted down with everlasting significance. Those who have gone on know this better than all of us in the land of the living. I feel that if they were given a chance to give another quote or motto, that night they would have said:
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
I pray that my classmates will be awakened by the quickening work of the Holy Spirit to see their need for Jesus Christ, to have their sins exposed in the light of God’s holiness so that they could be confessed and covered in the darkness of Christ’s death.
If these past ten years of my life can be summed up, it must be said that God is merciful to redeem this worthless sinner and gracious to make me satisfied in knowing Jesus Christ my Savior. I don’t know if that night my classmates saw me drinking from the Fountain of Life and enjoying the delights that come from tasting His goodness towards me, but I certainly wanted to make it known that Jesus is better than what life can offer now and what death can take later.
I believe that is what Jesus wanted me to tell them.
I also believe that is what those on the other side of eternity wished they could hear.