Two or three times a week on our morning walk Churchill and I pass a vacant lot a few blocks from our house. It wasn’t a vacant lot a year ago. Each time I pass it, I am reminded of the opening sequence of the 1940 movie “Rebecca”, where the voice begins “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”. And yet it was not the mansion she wanted to see, but the burned out hulk of the home she once knew.
One year ago there was a two-story house on that lot, like many of the neighbors. In that house lived a woman and her three cats. Then early one Sunday morning that all changed. A fire broke out in the predawn hours and took the life of the lady and her cats as well as destroying their home. By the time anyone knew there was a fire, it was too late. A mother and grandmother was gone. For several months, the burned out hulk stood there as a reminder of what had been. Soon the yellow tape disintegrated and all that was left was the silent ruin.
Finally, the heavy equipment knocked down the remnants of the house and they were hauled away. Now all that remains to remind us of the home and lives that once were there is the driveway that ends abruptly where the garage would have been and the small sidewalk that would have led to the front door. Grass has reclaimed most of the lot, with a few bushes. And there on the street, the mailbox still stands with rose bushes on each side of the driveway, still blooming all summer long.
And most people who drive by do not even see the vacant lot or think about the woman who once lived there. She is gone. The house is gone. Yet life goes on. Her friends and family remember, but the world has moved on. Much has happened in the intervening days, not even a year ago.
As I was writing this, the entertainment world lost two bright stars, Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. Right now their deaths dominate the news, but soon other things will take over. There remain battles in Iraq and Israel and elsewhere on the globe. And life goes on.
The Bible often talks about the brevity of life and how insignificant the lives of many individuals are. Yet, God cares about each and every life that comes into and exits the world. Whether it is noticed by the world or ignored by all, God cares. The best example of that comes in some of Jesus’ parables where he talks about the shepherd leaving 99 sheep and seeking the one lost sheep. Or the single lost coin. Or the lost son. Or that there is joy in heaven over one lost soul coming home.
So unlike the soliloquy in Macbeth where Shakespeare writes, “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day-to-day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. ” Life may be short, but it is full of meaning. We have a purpose and a mission. But we do not have a guarantee of tomorrow.
Another author, C. T. Studd, has said, “Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”