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Add Life to Your Years

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Gwen Smith

In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:4, NIV84)

Friend To Friend

One difficult morning six years ago, I wanted to hurl my screaming alarm clock into an abyss. The warmth of my covers and the safety of sleep beckoned my heart to stay, linger and forget what lay ahead of me that day. On that afternoon, I would sing for the funeral of a precious 18 year-old family friend who had died in a tragic car accident.

Her name was Macie. She was a girl who lived life to enjoy life. She babysat my kids and would often catch a ride home from church with us. She always had a spring in her step, a hug for a child, a kind word on her lips, and a sweet smile on her face. To know Macie was to love Macie. So, as you can imagine, my heart ached intensely when she died.

The sorrow messed with me.

It was heavy. Everything about her death seemed wrong. She was so young. So vibrant. So loved. I longed to turn back the hands of time and alter the course of Macie’s demise. I wanted her to magically appear at the service and tell us that it was all just a big misunderstanding. That she was fine! I wanted her to be fine. I wanted her to be alive.

My angst eventually gave way to peace as I remembered that she was fine – because she was alive in the perfect presence of God. The late Barbara Johnson said, “You never know when your time is going to expire, so remember: as you add years to your life, it is more important to add life to your years.” Macie only lived on this earth for 18 short years, but she added life to her years when she surrendered her heart to Jesus Christ a year before her death. I imagine that she is now skipping along streets of gold, worshiping God whole-heartedly, and loving on the two babies of mine that are in heaven. She always loved taking care of babies.

The Spirit of God and the knowledge of Macie’s salvation consoled me, yet I still had to choose to praise God through my grief. In the sadness, I had to choose to bless the Lord for His perfect plan. Even though His plan didn’t line up with my expectations. Even though those plans left many hearts heavy with ache. God’s grace enabled me to see rays of light in the dark loss because Macie had professed her faith in Christ and was prepared to meet Him when she breathed her final breath.

Adding life to your years is all about Jesus. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.” We can all know hope and peace in Christ. “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:4) Jesus came to give us life, plain and simple. Radical, audacious, full, abundant, joy-filled life that begins with the forgiveness that He offers us freely. Do you know that forgiveness?

Live today in the fullness of Jesus… in response to His grace and goodness. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  Let’s determine to live each day filled with purposed thankfulness as we worship God and point others to Him in love.

It was a sad day when I said goodbye to Macie. After leaving the graveside, I went home, hugged on my children and loved on my husband a bit more than normal. Her death reminded me just how important it is to add life to my years. It’s important for you too.

Live in the moment. God has a plan for your now.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, Thank You for offering eternal life through the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus. Thank you for replacing my human hopelessness with your divine hope. Please help me look past the distractions and disappointments of this world and to live each day to the fullest – in You. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

As we are not guaranteed tomorrow, I would like to direct you to add life to your years today…

  • Is there someone who you have offended, won’t forgive, are holding a grudge against or owe an apology to?  Contact them today and attempt to make peace before the sun goes down.
  • Hug your loved ones. Say, “I love you.” Focus on what really matters.
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)  Reach out to someone that is hurting. Pray for her.
  • Read John 1.

More From The Girlfriends

READY TO LIVE FULLY? I’m living proof that it is possible for anyone. God delights to deliver us from our hard places in and through the pain. Experience God’s healing and hope in your life today as you read Broken Into Beautiful. To order the book, go to Amazon, your favorite Christian bookstore, or for a signed copy, order from www.GwenSmith.net.

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25 Responses

  1. Michele Williams says:

    My Husband and I were married November 8th, 2012. We conceived within a month, found out we were pregnant on Christmas Eve. We were filled with joy and SO thankful for God’s Blessing! Six weeks later we lost the baby. My Husband and I came home from the OB’s office that morning, cried and prayed together and thanked for for the Blessing of a child, thanked Jesus for our Freedom and thanked the Holy Spirit for the blanket of peace we felt wrapped around us in that very painful moment. Freedom, that is what my Husband and I have. We each have Freedom in Christ. The Freedom to hurt and grieve, yet still able to feel Joy for Our Love for Christ and His abundant Love for us. We know, without a doubt, GOD has a mighty mighty plan for our lives that includes us being parents! :) Have an awesome day!! :)

    • gwen gwen says:

      Oh, Michele. I’m so sorry for your loss and so thankful for your perspective that brings both joy and glory to God. I share in your pain of miscarriage and agree that, without a doubt, God has a mighty plan for you and your husband. Thanks for doing life with us!

  2. Valerie says:

    Gwen:

    What an excellent topic today because we are so busy with the cares of life that we tend to overlook the most important assignment that Jesus gave us. To love one another. I am always reminded of the fact that someone will come to Jesus just because of your love walk and how we represent him counts for a whole lot. Since joining the fellow GIG’s in the readings I know that whatever I am facing in life I can go to the website and be uplifted by the articles, scriptures, and prayer. God Bless you and continue to spread his word.

  3. May Ann Rollon says:

    My husband and I had a disagreement 2 days ago. Until this morning, I haven’t talked to him. I’m not even bothered to check if he had his breakfast. I don’t even cared for him. On my way to work, I have decided not to be the first to approach him. I’m planning to have this “no talk” until he is the first to make the move. After reading this devotion, God spoke to me and changed my heart. I immediately called my husband. After asking and releasing forgiveness to each other, I felt peace and joy in my heart. Thanks for sharing this and becoming an instrument by God to change me the woman He wants me to be.

    • gwen gwen says:

      Wow!! That completely rocks, Mary Ann. I’m so excited to hear how the LORD prompted you toward forgiveness through today’s devotion. All glory is HIS!! Thanks so much for sharing that!

    • Adrianne says:

      That was a powerful testimonial share! Wow, right in the moment. I too was immediately moved to contact someone (the Lord put it on my heart late last night, and this sealed the deal)!

  4. This is my second time posting on this article because the first one was not considered for whatever reason. So here goes my second attempt. I believe this article, scriptures, and prayer were right on time for me personally because I felt like over several weeks now and it came to me right before embarking upon GIG website that it was important for me to assess every day that I live and see what areas I need God to improve within me and ask him to help me. It is easier said than done most of the time, but, if I just trust in the Lord and lean not to my understandings, in all my ways, acknowledge him, than he will direct my path. Thanks for the uplifting topic.

    • gwen gwen says:

      Thanks, Valerie. Great thoughts. For sure… we are to trust the Trustworthy One!

      FYI – comments have to be approved by a fleshy person, so they don’t post right away. ;)

      Blessings in Grace,
      Gwen

  5. Suze James says:

    Oct 22, 2012 my husband and I went in to have our third child. My middle son says to me before leaving; mommy don’t go I want you to stay home. I replied son I will be okay and will only be in the hospital for 3days. Well my c-section was schedule for 9am. We had a beautiful 9lbs 4oz baby boy at 9:39am. Well as I laid there I noticed it was taking my doctor entirely to long to close me back up. Well my uterus kept oozing blood. Finally after assistant from another doctor they were able to stop the bleeding and stitch me back up. Well like 10min later my blood pressure dropped and my belly still look like I was pregnant. I was rushed back into surgery just for the doctors to see that I hemorrhage really bad and my uterus collapsed. My uterus looked like mushed and that was the beginning for the fight for my life. I lost all my blood and needed a transfusion. Meanwhile I am not aware this is going on. I speak to God while I was under and pleaded to have more times with my kids and family. I vow to do his will whatever it was. I woke up asking to see my baby and after the renewal I was transferred to ICU. I received 18units of blood, platelet, plasma, and various tests. I share this because as your story stated you never know. I am very grateful to be here and recently had my 31st birthday. Be Bless!

  6. Shelley Hart says:

    I too know the pain of losing a child. On September 29, 2002, I lost my Matthew, and almost my life, just shy of 7 months gestation.

    A few months prior, we headed in for our ultrasound with video camera, hubby and big sister in tow. What we were expecting to be a joyful family experience, ended up being our worst nightmare.

    It only took one glance upon the tech’s face to realize that something was wrong. My husband escorted big sister out of the room because it became apparent that she didn’t need to be there. He kept her occupied while the ultrasound was finished. The doctor, himself, came in and completed the ultrasound.

    What I remember the most is the silence. Not a single word had been spoken. The words that finally broke the silence were “I’m so sorry, your baby isn’t going to make it.”

    The doctor began to show me that the baby’s heart was beating, but it was so enlarged you couldn’t begin to determine the left from the right. The baby’s brain was one large mass, no separation. He had no stomach. There were many other issues. Even if I were to make it to full term, the baby would not survive. I actually was told that ending the pregnancy would probably be a good thing, especially since it wasn’t certain what kind of toll it would take on me. Honestly, we considered it. In the end, there was no way I could. It wasn’t up to me. It was up to God. Life is not mine to give or take away.

    Sorry….this is taking more space than I thought it would. I’ll try and condense the last part.

    Long story short…earlier on, the procedure that would have been used on me to abort the pregnancy in a clinic and then sending me to a hotel room to recover, ended up having to be performed in the hospital to enduce labor. I became sick in my 7th month of pregnancy. The procedure ended up causing me to hemorrhage. The placenta tore away from my uterine wall. I ended up having an emergency C-Section.

    My baby died in my husbands arms while he was baptizing him in the NICU. Matthew only live for 45 minutes. They had to knock me out totally so I wasn’t able to see him alive.

    I lost my baby. Without a baby in my arms, they wheeled me out of the hospital in a wheelchair. I was hurting, but yet numb. BUT….God, my Heavenly Father saved my life. And as much as I wonder what kind of boy, young man and adult man Matthew would have been, I have a son waiting for me in Heaven and he’s perfect.

    I hope one day God will use my misery and make it my ministry.

    Again, sorry this is so long, didn’t intend it to be, but I think God wanted me to share today.

    • gwen gwen says:

      Oh, Shelley – Thanks so much for sharing your story. My heart is swollen with empathy, as I, too, know the sting of loss. Your heart is beautiful and your desire for the LORD to use your story for His glory will surely happen if you release it to His use. Big hugs and blessings! Gwen

  7. Linda says:

    My dad passed away in December and while I am grieving his loss I am also having to come to grips with the loss of his home, the home I grew up in, and my grandmother’s home, the home I have lived in for the last 20 years. My whole life is changing drastically and I feel lost…I don’t know where I will end up and it is frightening. I really needed to hear your message and your words today…especially words:”Live in the moment. God has a plan for your now.” and the prayer.

    Thank you Gwen. God bless you!

    • gwen gwen says:

      Linda,

      Thanks so much for sharing your heart. God is surely at work. I pray that you will continue to trust Him through your grieving. He is faithful and really does have an amazing plan for your now. Move in that direction, friend.

  8. Rachel says:

    I am at the tail end of a divorce. Both of us did so many hurtful things. For so long I was bitter and angry and hurt and never apologized for MY wrong doings though HE had asked me to forgive him. To be honest, I felt that the “payback” pain I put him through was only fair. Wellll, God has certainly been doing a LOT of work in me! I did a 21 day fast in January and really felt the need to apologize to my ex-husband for all the horrible things I had done in our marriage. Yesterday morning I sat down and emailed him a long, apologetic letter and blessed him and his new life. I felt such peace! I know that God is still working on all the hurt….but I know that this was part of His way of working it out of me. Thank you to all of the GIG writers! Your words have encouraged me more than you can imagine! I even have some of the quotes from a few devotions up on my bulletin board as reminders of God’s love and presence in my life. Good stuff gals! :)

  9. Cindy says:

    Praise God for you, Gwen, and the other gals who have written here. :) I so appreciate the prayer with which you ended. Powerful. Sometimes, I get so frustrated with our teenaged daughter, and flustered, too. I allow myself to intimidated by her, then I am not thinking clearly or responding appropriately. She sees a lot of weakness in me and I don’t like that. :( Yes, help me look past the distractions to the Author and Finisher of my faith, and respond slowly and deliberately, with great hope in Jesus, His love and faithfulness. God bless you richly!

    • gwen gwen says:

      Don’t you love how personal God is, Cindy!? Hang in there. Keep looking to Him… because our hope comes from the LORD. And… I’m in the trenches with you, girl. I have two teens and a tween. We. Must. Pray! :)

  10. Jayne says:

    What perfect timing for me to read this today as I prepare to fly back to Florida after celebrating the life of my nephew yesterday. It was hared to watch as my brother, his wife and their daughter let him go into Jesus hands. Knowing the struggles of this World ar over fr him helps begin the healing process. Bless you for listening to Gods call and His perfect timing.

  11. Brandee says:

    My sister was 19 and died 3 months ago in a car accident. She was so full of life and though she was the victim of cruel bullying for much of middle school, she had such a spirit of forgiveness and never became angry or bitter at any of her bullies. I don’t know why she had to go when she was so young and was such an example to others. My heart breaks and I miss her every day. I know Missy is with Jesus in heaven and that brings me some comfort though the pain of her absence is still very raw.
    Thank you for your words of hope today. It is hard to find joy in grief but I know that worshipping God and thanking Him for the life that my sister had is the best way to honour her memory and live in gratefulness for each day I have with my husband and children. Glory be to God in every circumstance – this is the prayer of my heart.

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