Death does interesting things to a person.
I met Steve Malakowsky at 8th Day Coffee and Culture, where I had been with my friend Bekah to watch her friend perform a beautiful acoustic set. After the show, I met Steve and we talked about intentional communities and his heart for the marginalized and oppressed. He gave me some places to start looking for connections and mentors. We talked again at First Friday, where he gave me a few minutes on the mic for spoken word.
I wanted to be a part of what he had started, a movement of art for freedom, dignity, and hope for all people. I wanted to follow in his footsteps, see what he did, talk with him and listen to his wisdom.
Today, Steve died suddenly of a heart attack.
Our time here can be taken at any moment. There is no time to spend hating, in bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness. There is no time to spend in meaninglessness, chasing after dust, after things we can’t take with us.
Each moment we have an option: to live intentionally in that moment as if it were the last moment of our lives, or to let it pass as a breeze we pay no attention to because we are too distracted.
There are moments where I would be grateful God decided that was the time to bring me home. When I am in prayer, when I am serving someone, when my heart is fully turned to Him, when I praising Him in my words and actions, when I am loving people.
Other moments I don’t live so intentionally. I hurt someone (intentionally or unintentionally—the pain is the same); I harbor anger, jealousy, or unforgiveness in my heart toward my fellow human being; I numb myself with movies, television, social media; I am selfish, looking out for me, doing what I want to do without considering others as better than myself. I pray that in those moments, God will have mercy on me and give me another moment to repent, to ask forgiveness from Him and my neighbor who I have wronged, to be reborn again and again and again into every moment, living the next moment more intentionally, with more love, more passion than the last.
There is no time for apathy or selfishness.
We are all dust. Greg Boyd said it well: “All this world with all of its glories is going to pass away. It’s just dust, animated dust. That’s all it is. Well, live like it’s dust now and you’re a free person. It’s dust! Nothing more than dust. Now you’re free. That’s what it is to live a simple life.”
I also think of the beauty of leaving this world knowing you are loved and cared for, surrounded by people whose lives you have impacted, who have loved you and walked with you on your journey.
Then I think of my friend Ben in
Kenya who walks through the slums
searching for people dying in silence, alone, abandoned by everyone but God.
Sometimes he finds them before they have died and he does everything he can to
help them, get them the medicine they need, the touch they need, the love they
need. Sometimes he arrives too late, perhaps knowing there has been a death
only because the area begins to smell like decay. An emaciated woman lying in
feces, her children crying at her side, helpless, defenseless. This is every
day for him.
I can’t describe my heart. Shattered, heavy, too heavy.
“God I am useless! I am helpless. I can do nothing. They will continue to die nameless, faceless, unknown, unloved.”
But He says, “Love the people around you. Love them with all your heart. Seek their good. You are not useless. You can love those around you who also feel unloved, unwanted, uncared for. Start here. Start now.”
Live each moment intentionally.
In every moment, if you were to die that moment, would you be satisfied with how you had spent the time given to you on this earth?
Would you have wished you had forgiven that person? Asked forgiveness? Loved a little better? Let go a little easier?
We cannot waste this life. It’s the only one we get.