My heart still aches even today. It started aching a little after 3:00 P.M. on Thursday, May 22. That was close to the time my father called to ask me to return to the hospital.
Earlier that day Peggy had endured a four-hour heart surgery to replace her aortic valve and to repair an aneurism. Afterwards the doctors reassured my father she was doing well. In fact, the doctor said the surgery was extremely successful.
Two hours later, however, she took a turn for the worse. At 8:05 P.M., Peggy Whitley was pronounced dead.
We were all shocked, including the surgeon. He said a death like this occurs less than 2% of the time. Peggy is now a rare statistic. Her heart just stopped beating.
There was nothing he could do. The surgeon tried everything. He said if there were something he could have done to do to save her life, he would have done it. But, again, there was nothing he could do.
That night at the hospital and the days that ensued were difficult. Thankfully, Peggy’s funeral was warm, Spirit-filled and Gospel-centered. My dad even spoke at the service, and how he did that I will never know.
I miss Peggy. I miss her a lot. I can only imagine how much my father misses her. Dad and Peggy would have been married 28 years a few days later on Sunday, May 25.
As for Peggy’s three daughters and only son, I know they miss their mother. She was special. She was a good mother not only to them, but also to many others through the years.
Peggy’s death was a great reminder for me. Even though I am in ministry, I still need to be reminded that life is temporary and that death is certain.
We are all gong to die, aren’t we? At some time our hearts will stop beating. At some point our life will come to an end. And then what happens after that?
I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. I have also been thinking a lot about life, about family, about friends, and about what matters. Death will do that to you. Death will cause you to contemplate.
As I think about death, and life, I want to remind you of a few things that matter.
- What matters most is your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Spend time today enjoying your intimacy with the Lord. He is your life, don’t you know? The Bible is replete with calls to pursue the Lord. Isaiah said, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6). James gave a similar command, when he wrote, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Seek the Lord today.
- Your relationship with family and friends also matter. Do not take anyone for granted. Do not put off expressing your affection. Communicate your love for them. Take time right now to let these people know that you care for them. Tell them daily and tell them often that you love them.
- Don’t fret over possessions. Don’t get anxious about what you own or don’t own. Possessions are more temporary than life. So do not work yourself to death to accumulate more things. Instead, work on your relationships. Work at loving others and expressing your love for them.
- Make every moment count. Today is the best day of your life, not tomorrow or the next day, not even yesterday or last year. Right now is the best moment to live. So live fully. Enjoy everything around you. Soak up every moment. Embrace every situation. Make memories off who you meet and what you do each day.
- Be thankful. Express your gratitude. Show grace. Be kind. Be gentle. Do not force your way. Do not push yourself onto others. Be gracious. Be kind. Be humble. Be compassionate. Be honest. Be truthful.
This is what matters to me today.