What a week. Actually, it’s been a couple of weeks. Since I returned home from Honduras I have returned to my work as youth minister at Central and getting the fall calendar off and running. Along with that, however, I have had to face the newest battle I have been fighting with melanoma. Skin cancer is nothing to laugh at and is something everyone needs to take very seriously. I never dreamed I would have cancer, especially skin cancer. While I was in Honduras some new tumors grew and I knew as soon as I got home I would have to deal with it. However, upon my return, I found that things had changed from the original plans.
I came home expecting to have surgery right away. However, I qualified for a new treatment that Moffitt Cancer Center, in Tampa, was conducting, which I accepted. I received a new method of treatment in which a special drug was injected directly into the tumor site (4 of them) and then a current of electricity was sent into the site to activate the drug and cause the cells to absorb it. The treatment went well and I am waiting for the results. I have some tests coming up and surgery on September 13th, as of now, and I petition your prayers.
I said all of that to lead into what I wanted to say. A wonderful family from Central, the Kluge’s, moved to Honduras to begin full time work down there on several different projects. It was a loss for us; the girls were very active in the youth group and Randy and Melissa went to Don Pablo’s with us on a regular basis after Tuesday night teen devotionals (ya got to eat, right?). Right before we came home from Honduras, Melissa and Randy found out that Melissa’s mom, Dee, had been diagnosed with cancer. It was very serious and the Kluge’s decided to come home with our group. It was devastating news since Dee had beaten cancer twice before. However, this time was different.
Dee was a wonderful Christian woman and one that everyone at church loved. The cancer was far advanced and she passed away after only 3 or 4 weeks. Her battle ended this past Monday, August 15th, and her funeral was today, the 20th. This was hard day for many, especially for me. I am close to the Kluge’s, and I certainly knew Dee pretty well. It was not a hard thing to know that she has gone on to receive her reward, to receive her new body. It is not hard to understand that she is in a place where she will never again experience pain or suffering. All of that I know and understand quite well. It was especially hard for me to see someone loose the battle to the very thing that I am fighting with right now. That was the hard part. I understand now, more than ever, how fragile life is and how temporary we are here.
For many, a new school year has started. My son, Nathan, reported in at Freed-Hardeman for his senior year. Where did the time go? I am pretty sure it was yesterday we were crying our eyes out as we took him up to begin his first year of college. Others have reported in at their respective schools as well. A new year, a new beginning. New classes, new books, new teachers. New friends, new acquaintances. New goals, new objectives. Starting something new is such a good thing sometimes.
For others, we are back to the same ole’ same ole’. Same jobs, same desk. Same boss, same office. Same people we work with, same tasks. Sure, some things change, but for most, it is the same thing we left before we went to Honduras. Nothing really new here. Nothing really exciting. Just like the students, we wake up, do our thing, and at some point go to bed. Amazing how our perspective is so difference, isn’t it? But a few weeks from now all of that “newness” will wear off and perspectives will change again. It is all on how we look at it.
Whether it is a new year or not, the same thing applies to us all. We are here right now, doing what we do, for a reason. So, what is that reason? To make a difference. That’s right, to make a difference. For you see, we are only here for a little while. James says our life is like a vapor, here for a little while, and then vanishes away. How long is a “Little while?” I don’t know, exactly. For Dee, it was 49 years. 49 years to make a difference. To make a difference with her family, her friends, and her relationship with God. For many, it is less time. For others, more. Don’t take time for granted, it is the one thing that we have no guarantees on. And it is the thing we take for granted most often. Use your time wisely, make the most of every opportunity.
Make a difference where you are right now. Do it now, while you have the time. Make a difference with your relationship with God. Make a difference with your friends, your co-workers. Make a difference at your schools and where you work. Make a difference on the team you play on, your club. Your church. You CAN make a difference and you can make it now. It is your CHOICE whether or not you choose to do it.
Dee, thank you for making a difference. We miss you here but look forward to the day that we will see you again. As the country singer Billy Dean says in one of his songs, “Cause we’re only here for a little while.”