“Some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2, KJV).
My Musings – There would be no graduation celebrations. No major birthday milestones after his first, as he never lived to see double digits. No coaxing him to take those first few steps. No teaching him to ride a bike or drive a car. No playing catch with dad or baking cookies with mom. No petty fights his brother Joel over what television shows to watch or toys to play with. No Cub Scout meetings, father son campouts or pinewood derbies. No first dates. No coming to mom or dad for advice. No visits to see which college he would attend. No awards to hang on the wall.
And yet there are so many other memories that are indelibly inked into our mind. So much of our own character development we owe to having been privileged to care for him.
He was never destined for greatness, as the world measures greatness. The severe physical and mental handicaps suffered at birth prevented that. The prisoner of a broken body and broken mind, developmentally he remained an infant for all of his nine years.
He was never destined for the long life that so many covet. In frail health, he seemed to recover from one serious illness just in time to begin the next one. Until the final illness that claimed his life.
These things, perhaps, would indicate a life of little or no significance. And yet if insignificant, then how do we explain the sense of loss that we still feel after so many years? It is explained by realizing that our loss would be so much greater had he never been a part of our lives.
Unable to say that he loved us, he taught us how deep love can really be. Too weak to wage a valiant fight against the tremendous odds he faced, he taught us a thing or two about courage and faith. He was a living portrait from God. Reminding us that if all we live for is what this life gives us, then we are the ones who are handicapped by such a limited view.
- Greatness? Perhaps not in the World’s view. But in our mind, for sure.
- Long life? Not as measured by the calendar, but when measured by the memories he left us with, eternal.
- Insignificant? Hardly. The impact he had on so many other lives cannot be fully measured.
- Loss? Indeed. Because we gained so much from him while he was with us and lit hurts so deeply to be separated.
We received this card from a work colleague when Joshua passed. The verse touched us and reminds us of the butterfly effect. What is the butterfly effect? It is where a small change at one place can result in large differences in another. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.
So it was with Joshua’s life, that seemingly insignificant, broken life that could not possibly have been expected to have an impact at all. His life seemed to be a small and insignificant change in a vast expanse, barely noticeable. Yet, he touched lives in a way that we could have never imagined causing large differences in how they viewed life and eternity. But “God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are.” God chose the butterfly. Incredible as it may seem, God chose Joshua.
One of my favorite holiday movies is “It’s A Wonderful Life.” If you are familiar with the movie you might recall this reference to the butterfly effect by Clarence, the angel trying to earn his wings: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” Well, Joshua’s life touched so many and would have left an awful hole if this seemingly insignificant life have never been.
My Advice – We will not be separated forever. Someday we too will be a memory for someone else to recall. But when they do, we will have been reunited with him. For this we thank a God who understands. For you see, He lost a Son once too.
Cherish those you love while they remain in your life. Sometimes, you have to give them up way too soon.