I sat down yesterday to read my Bible and journal before going out to spend the day with some friends. I had plans of sitting down to write a blog post when I got back home. That didn’t happen. The plan was to write about how to make positive change in difficult relationships. Even relationships that are thrust upon us with no choice of our own. I might get back to that one later, but yesterday was not the day.
Shortly after getting home yesterday I noticed on my Facebook feed that there were a number of profile pics that had changed to a picture of the Kalkaska Sheriff’s Department badge on a black background with a blue line over it. It was not the traditional black line over a badge, but I was pretty sure I knew what it meant right away, and I began praying for those I know in the Department as I scrolled through the feed looking for more information.
Before too long I had found a reference to my friend Abe DeVol, Kalkaska County Sheriff. It hit like a sledgehammer. I began looking at news outlets to see if I could figure out what happened, and eventually found a news story stating that Abe had died unexpectedly of natural causes. I spent much of last night in a fog, thinking about my friend. He was only 44 years old. Just two years older than I am. Much of last night was spent thinking and worrying about my own health and asking the question no one likes to ask, “What if it was me?” “What if I went to work on Monday and didn’t come home?”
Just a couple months ago Abe and I spent some time talking and he shared with me how he struggled with the demands of the job and how it made it harder for him to be there for his wife and daughters. He loved them all, and he did everything he could to make sure that they knew he put them first. I was glad to see that over the last couple of weeks he was posting pictures of himself with his daughters out in the woods together enjoying his passion of hunting. He was that kind of Dad. Heavily involved in sports, and always willing to brag about his three girls.
Sleep last night was a little rough with all the thoughts that kept waking me up. “Have I prepared things for my family if I am gone?” “Why didn’t I spend more time thinking about my health?” “Why didn’t I spend more time with them?” “How much time do I have?” “What am I supposed to do?”
This morning I sat down to open the Bible and my study plan dropped me in Matthew 6. Near the end of the chapter there is a section that is marked off in my Bible. It is a bold section heading that states:
DO NOT BE ANXIOUS
The last verse of Matthew 6 says:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34
In light of Abe’s passing, this verse really spoke to me and the worries that I had been experiencing through the night. As I read through it, I had three thoughts that came to mind.
- Don’t Worry About Tomorrow – This isn’t a pass that takes away all responsibility in life, but it is a reminder that tomorrow is going to come no matter what. It might have some good in it, and it might have some bad in it. Either way, I am going to be facing it with God. I can make plans, but I need to remember that plans don’t always work out. Even that great philosopher Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
- Tomorrow Is Coming… Quickly – There are so many things that are going on in our lives today. It is a fast-paced world with technology, information overload, schedules, demands, responsibilities, and sometimes even some fun stuff too! We need to make sure we are in the moment and not focusing too much on the past or the future. Another great philosopher, Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
- Today Is Enough for Today – At work I have been taking the time each morning to lay out my day. I use an app called Trello to keep everything organized, and it has allowed me to attack my day more efficiently. Part of that daily planning is to assess my progress during the day and see if the task is possible to complete. It might not be possible to do it all in one day, but I can make a little progress and then jot a note for the next day and return to it then. I find that doing this is allowing me to come home in a better mood at the end of the day, even if the day was a little rocky. I am seeing an improvement, and I want to take this same discipline into other areas, arguably the more important areas of my life.
I don’t want to live a life of worry. There are too many things that I will miss out on if I live that way. I want to know that at the end of any given day I have had a good day. I want days that leave my family feeling loved and fulfilled. I want my wife to know how important she is to me. I want her to know that she has been an encouraging force in my life that has kept me moving in times that I didn’t feel like I could go another step. I want my kids to know that I am proud of them, love them, and that I cared enough to equip them with things they need to know for life. I want them all to know that there was never a place I wanted to be more than with the three of them.
These are things that I believe Abe wanted his family to know as well. I’m sure when he went to bed Friday night he didn’t know what Saturday held for him, but I know that if he could talk to us today, he would tell us that we never know when it is time to leave and we should take the time to be sure to take care of the important things like our families, our faith, and our friends while we still can.
I am thankful that as a child of Christ, I know my future is secure. I have a home in heaven, and I know that I will see my family again one day. That faith stands strong to carry me past the point of worry to a place where I can stand resolute in my belief that tomorrow will be okay no matter what comes. I’m going to continue to do the smart things of trying to getting in shape, to make sure I teach my kids what they need to know, and to shower my wife with love, but I don’t need to worry about tomorrow. God has my tomorrow in His hands, and He is much more capable of handling it well than I ever could be.
Relentless Living doesn’t mean I don’t care about my tomorrow, but it does mean that worrying about tomorrow need not keep me from living today.
Our little town is a different place today without Abe in it. He will be missed greatly, and I know that there are a lot of people here who are better for having known him. He knew the importance of making a difference in his community, and that is something we all need to remember to do. Please remember to keep his family in your prayers.