My new year started out with a funeral, when I attended the service for a friend’s mother. Then, the news broke that longtime ESPN Sportscenter anchor Stuart Scott had died of cancer, a man who basically was my news anchor in college and beyond. Death seems to be everywhere.
After the service, I sat with two friends and reflected about life over lunch. We talked about how we try to artificially create a sense of security for ourselves, how 9/11 broke through our nationalistic sense of invincibility, and how the end result is a constant news cycle of fear. Fear of ebola, fear of the flu, fear of terrorist attacks. Fear is everywhere.
It can be almost overwhelming. The sense of our own mortality and the fear percolating around us can threaten to drag us under, suffocating us and incapacitating us.
But the truth is, there is life everywhere, too. Instead of four weddings and a funeral, the second week of 2015 has been filled with four births and a funeral. Three of my friends are now fathers (one had twins!) and to see those beautiful children, with a world of promise and hope in front of them, is a reminder that the good news of Christmas (that God is here) still rings true, that there’s a time for everything … and that it’s outside of our control.
We can impact our lives; don’t get me wrong, we’re supposed to be responsible for our own actions. We can kick the habits of smoking or drinking to the curb and increase our health; we can use medicine and scientific advancement to increase the chances of pregnancy; we can embrace a healthier lifestyle to impact our potential lifespan. Goals and changes are important to our development as human beings!
But the truth is, every second, every minute, every hour is allotted to us by God. Not to be trite, but the whole world is in his hands. The entirety of our lives is known by God, from the way we came into the world to the way that we’ll go out. And each moment, every breath, is a gift. Rather than worry about what we can’t control, better to take each moment and live in the power of the resurrection, to recognize in the words of Johnny Cash, that even in death, “ain’t no grave gonna hold me down.”
Jesus came as a little baby, and grew to be the man who would die on the cross, that we might “have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Whether it’s the reminders of justice and peace in Selma or the power of forgiveness in Unbroken, the things we can control lie within our context, our spirits, our hearts. The things we can’t control? We need to give God all of that – and let him worry about it!