First job. First house. First date. First kiss.
Firsts. We’re obsessed with them. They’re the defining moments of our lives. It’s these moments that we look back on with little smiles on our faces.
It’s been over 20 years but I can still vividly recall my first date. I remember what we were wearing as well as that first kiss on her parent’s doorstep. I couldn’t believe it. The night when a girl actually let my lips touch her. It’s a moment that I look back on with fondness.
I remember the first meal my wife tried to cook and the disaster it became. She was slapping the meatloaf with a spatula trying to find a piece that was thoroughly cooked before serving me one with the appetizing statement, “Here. This piece doesn’t look too bad.”
Pink meatloaf was accompanied by sautéed mushrooms. I took a bite and felt my body slip into rigor mortis as the flavor struck me. They were the most disgusting things I’d ever tasted but there was my young wife looking at me with hope written all over her face. In that moment, I knew what every young husband, at least what every SMART young husband, knew…I’d have to eat the whole bowl and smile through unshed tears while I did it.
I can recall how joyful I was when my wife took a bite of the same mushrooms and exclaimed, “These are horrible!”
I didn’t hesitate. I earnestly said, “Thank God!” and, with great gusto, spit out my half-chewed mushrooms. That is another first for me. The first time I can look back and know that God answered prayer.
Firsts. They are what we use to mark the chapters of our lives but, in the past year, my focus has changed. I’ve stopped thinking about firsts and have started thinking about lasts. Last breath. Last kiss. Last words. Lasts.
They’re much more important than firsts. If something is “first”, it inherently means that there will be a second, probably a third, and so on. If something is last, it means that’s it. Nothing more to follow. Game over, man.
These thoughts came as part of a revelation I’ve had over the past year. I’ve realized that I’m going to die. Not just the intellectual knowledge that someday I will die but that I will ACTUALLY cease to exist in this world. I’ll go from being a man to a memory.
I will have my last day. I will share my last hug with my children and, God willing, my grandchildren. I’ll wake up for the last time. I’ll enjoy my last meal with my wife. I’ll kiss her for the last time and will share my last words. I hope they’re something meaningful and inspiring but, more than likely, it’ll probably be something along the lines of “What’s that smell?” or “Hey, y’all. Watch this!”
My last day here will also mark a new series of firsts. First day in Heaven. First time seeing Jesus. First time walking the streets of gold and so many other firsts that I can’t even begin to comprehend.
With this in mind, other things started to lose meaning. I used to be obsessed with the balance of our checkbook, the condition of our car, or my professional reputation. I wish I could say that I no longer care about those things but that wouldn’t be true. I’m still human after all but their hold on me slackens every day.
While those firsts I’ve mentioned are precious to me, I now realize that so much we occupy our time with in this world are unimportant nothings. I’m now more concerned with seeing how God can use me. I want my children to know more than what it takes to be a good person. I want them to know what it means to be a good Christian. I want them to know how to pray. How to give without thought for themselves. I want them to know God.
I want my children to be better than me. I don’t want them to be hindered by fear when they should speak up or to be hesitant to put their tithe in the offering plate.
I want them to mark their lives with firsts that matter all while being aware of the reality of their future.
That being said, the first time I kissed my new bride was pretty great. I’ll hold on to that one.
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