My dad is gone now, but he used to playfully say "I love you real hard" to mean that he loved me very much. He was known for loving his children and grandchildren almost to a fault. He wanted everyone safe and happy and, most of all, near him. As my dad aged, he seemed to need his family's companionship even more, and I believe he knew his time was coming to an end. He wanted to savor the moments with those he loved and lengthen them whenever possible.
Today I opened an email newsletter from a college classmate who ministers in Louisiana. A breathtakingly beautiful young woman smiled out from the front page and I wondered who she might be. Turns out, she was the 23 year old daughter of this friend and was killed on May 11, 2007 - my own daughter's birthday. Hannah was returning from Texas A&M for her wedding shower that weekend and had called her parents to say "I'll see you tonight." She made one short stop to pick up her wedding dress and a few minutes later was struck by an out of control semi-truck. She was killed instantly. Hannah was set to receive her Master's Degree and be married all in the space of a few weeks. But instead she was gone.
I cannot begin to understand what her parents must feel. Although we were not close friends in college, her mom and dad were much like us, young and energetic and filled with dreams. And now one of their dreams has been shattered. They will miss her desperately and struggle to overcome the suffocating grief of having lost a child. But they live on in God's strength. Jesus said, "My grace is sufficient for you," and that statement is alive in the pages of their newsletter, which is packed with reports of ministry in the Philippines and other places. They are still energetic and filled with dreams.
I pray for my daughters everyday, for their safety and their happiness and their love for God. I love them - hard - and I would hate to say goodbye like this colleague has had to do. In the meantime, I will remember to be more encouraging, to live optimistically, to love my family harder, to savor the moments of life that I have with those I love.
We all know how to work hard and play hard. But the Bible tells us the greatest thing we can do is love (1 Corinthians 13). Time is short. Live on and love hard .