I can't say I understand people's suffering, or why so many died that day while some were spared, but I do know I will forever trust God, whether I have the answers in this life or not. As I rocked Julian to sleep tonight I sang him the familiar hymn and verse from Psalms. The hymn that my father sang to me as a little girl...
"As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after Thee
You alone are my heart's desire and I long to worship Thee"
If only that were true for the millions of people who know and sing that song every day. The writer is talking about being desperate for God—so desperate that he's comparing longing for the Lord to a deer panting and longing for the very thing it needs to survive. Do we really ever long for God that badly? Each time I sing that song or hum it under my breath I have to ask myself if I really long for Him like that.
I've never been so reminded about the shortness of life as I have this last month. As I walked past people's homes that had been flattened by the earthquake I got a glimpse of the person that once lived inside. I could see what kind of clothes they wore, what they cooked with, what color of uniform their child wore to school. One house stood out to me in all of the homes we saw. I walked quietly and alone around the remains of a flattened home where I was told a mother and her child were dead inside. The horrible smell confirmed it, but I felt like I needed to know them, so I walked around, speechless. Outside were some scattered pieces of paper with beautiful, perfect writing on each one. Hymns. Hundreds of them. Beautiful songs and poems written to the Lord, scattered about the pebble and brick that once was her home. I imagined her singing those hymns to Jesus while she was cooking for her family, or rocking her baby to sleep in the now broken rocking chair. This woman may have died young, but she lived. She understood that the only thing that matters is Jesus. She understood that when we die the only thing in the whole world that will count for anything is our relationship with God, nothing else.
Death seems so far off to us, like we are all going to have enough time before we die to change our lives and get our priorities straight, but it rarely happens like that. Almost never. It happens in an instant, when you are least expecting it. You don't have time to change; you don't have time to live like you always wished you did. I know this last month has challenged me. It has reminded me of the reality that life is short. It has made me think about what really matters and I have drawn closer to God because I know that it is only HIM that matters. It will be only Him and I standing face to face at the end of this life, and nothing else will count for anything.