living for god is not for sissies

perspective is an amazing thing.  as i’ve begun to understand what it means to be a kingdom citizen and to seek god’s highest and best for my life, i tend to look at things differently.  success markers i had set my sights on a few years ago have receded into my peripheral vision.  even struggles that might have sidelined me in the past are serving to make me stronger.  while i might not embrace suffering, at least i understand its purpose in my life.

and then there’s marshall shelley.

shelley, editor for leadership magazine, and his wife, susan, had an infant son that died.  three months later, their two-year old daughter died.  his perspective–most certainly fleshed out in close communion with jesus–is almost supernatural.  here is marshall shelley’s story in his own words:

I was with my son his entire life. Two minutes.

He entered the world of light and air at 8:20 p.m. on November 22, 1991. And he departed, the doctor said, at 8:22.

It seemed a very short time. Too short. My wife, Susan, and I never got to see him take his first steps. We barely got to see him take his first breath.

I don’t know if he would have enjoyed softball or software, dinosaurs or dragonflies, machines or math. We never got to wrestle, race, or read–would he have enjoyed those things like his older sisters do? What would have made him laugh? Made him scared? Made him angry?

Those questions swarmed around my soul in the days following my son’s hurried arrival and departure. So many things I wondered. But one question loomed larger than all the rest, haunting me for months: Why would God create a child to live two minutes?

Many tragic deaths can be blamed on human cruelty or foolishness. A stray bullet punctures a tenement wall and kills an infant. A driver loses control of a car and careens into a group of schoolchildren on the sidewalk. Senseless. Heartbreaking. But at least I know where to direct my anger…As far as I was concerned, this was a design flaw. And the Designer was directly responsible.

Why did God create a child to live two minutes?

He didn’t

He didn’t create Toby to live two minutes or Mandy to live two years. He didn’t create me to live 40 years (or whatever number he may choose to extend my days in this world). God created Toby for eternity. He created each of us for eternity, where we may be surprised to find our true calling, which always seemed just out of reach here on earth.

could that be why i never feel completely fulfilled, completely satisfied?  that i am created for eternity?  that each of us is created for eternity?  it is becoming obvious that this world will never be able to scratch my deepest itch.  only eternity will provide what my heart yearns for.  in the meantime, i will strive to endure.  i will trust the lord to make himself real to me in the hard times.  or as marshall shelley says, “Living for God’s glory is not for sissies.”

talk about perspective.


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