Don’t let tomorrow become too late

Janet Roberts

You won't see it coming.

My husband and I are recent transplants to South Carolina. We spent almost all of our 50-plus years in northeast Ohio close to family and friends. A job transfer brought us here.

It was seven months into our relocation and a particularly beautiful day in late May. We were enjoying dinner on the back deck and even lingered there afterward drinking coffee and having a nice chat about our days. As we began to clear the dishes, I noticed I didn't have my phone. I’d left it upstairs.

I ran up to get it and was immediately struck by the number of cryptic texts, missed calls, and voicemails. I had no idea what happened; I just knew it was bad. And indeed it was. My youngest brother died, suddenly and unexpectedly.

Just When You Think It Can't Get Any Worse

The next morning as we readied for our trip back to Ohio for his funeral, my sister called. Our mom lost consciousness at her home, and my sister could not revive her. My mother died three days later, never having regained consciousness.

I wasn't there to say a final goodbye or “I love you” to my brother or mother. There was just the gut-punch, and then grief.

As I said, you won't see it coming.

The Ugly Truth

Two years later there are still times of disbelief and tears. But, by the grace of God, my final memory of them is the family dinner we all shared just two weeks before they went to be with the Lord.

At times, familial relationships are messy and painful. But God calls us to urgently pursue reconciliation of broken relationships (Matthew 5:23-24, Psalm 34:14, Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14). In fact, God will give us opportunities to reconcile with those with whom we are estranged.

It’s better to take the risk of reconciliation than to carry the burden of regret.

The grudge that seems so important will become a sword that pierces our hearts when the object of our unforgiveness is suddenly gone.

The Great Hope and Assurance in Death

What also comforts me greatly is the assurance and hope of knowing Jesus. My brother’s and mother’s relationship with Jesus assured them a place in heaven (John 5:24). My relationship with Jesus allows me to grieve, but grieve with the hope of my future reunion with them (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

Life on Earth is fleeting (James 4:13-17). Waiting for the perfect opportunity to share Jesus with the people in our lives just creates delays until it is suddenly too late (Ecclesiastes 11:3-4). We are urged to make the most of every opportunity to connect others to Jesus (Ephesians 5:15-17, Colossians 4:5).

Now is the perfect time to offer an olive branch to your estranged family member. Every opportunity is the perfect opportunity to tell the good news of salvation through Jesus. The benefits of doing so are eternal.


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