What I’m Reading Today: Matthew 8
Last weekend I had the opportunity to reconnect with lots of great folks at my 25th high school reunion. Each of my former classmates impressed me a great deal with the tremendous strength they have shown as they faced the many challenges life has thrown their way.
One gentleman talked with me about living through the experience of losing his youngest child at the tender age of 6 months. Another classmate talked about the challenge of ending his 24-year marriage in a loving, respectful manner. Still another shared with me about the challenges of leaving her alcoholic and abusive husband in order to move forward and create a new life for herself and her two children.
While each of the stories that I heard was special, one of the individuals really impressed me with her remarkable strength and courage. The woman (whom I’ll call Shelly) told me about how her first husband struggled with an addiction to gambling. He moved Shelly and his family across country, forcing Shelly to leave behind her support system. While there, Shelly turned to drugs and alcohol to numb her pain. Her addictions ruled her life for the next decade. Just as she moved into a process of recovery, Shelly was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. In the midst of this series of tragedies, Shelly managed to raise three wonderful kids.
There were so many moments in her life at which Shelly could have given up. The despair she faced daily could have motivated her to continue making dangerous choices. Shelly chose not to do that. She dug down deep, drew upon the faith with which she had been raised, and made a remarkable choice: she chose life! And with that conscious decision, everything began to change for Shelly.
I was reminded of Shelly’s story when I read today’s passage from Matthew – for in that passage we are told that Jesus encountered someone who was a potential follower of him. When Jesus presented the individual with a choice about whether or not to follow him, the individual decided to do something else. Jesus responded to the individual’s choice by saying, “First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.”
Like Shelly, each of us comes to those moments when we get to make decisions about what we will put first in our life. Sometimes we make the healthy choice; other times we do not. I would encourage you to be mindful of those moments in your day when you face a decision about what you will pursue. Watch yourself in these moments and ask yourself: “What do I want to pursue – life, or something else?”
Til next time…