By James Dobson
In August 1977, my wife and children joined me on a trip to Kansas City, Missouri, for a short visit with my parents. We enjoyed several days of family togetherness before it was time to leave. As we drove to the airport where we said good-bye, I asked my father to pray for us. I will never forget his words. He closed with this thought:
And Lord, we thank You for the fellowship and the love that we feel for each other today. This has been a special time for us with Jim and Shirley and their children. But Heavenly Father, we are keenly aware that the joy that is ours today is a temporal pleasure.
Our lives will not always be this stable and secure. Change is inevitable and it will come to us, too.
We will accept it when it comes, of course, but we give You praise for the happiness and warmth that has been ours these past few days. We have had more than our share of the good things, and we thank You for Your love. Amen.
Shortly thereafter, we hugged and said good-bye, and my family boarded the plane. A week later, my father has suddenly grabbed his chest and told my mother to call the paramedics. He left us on December 4 of that year. Shortly after, my mother joined him in heaven.
How quickly life changes! Even today, so many years later, my dad’s final prayer echoes in my mind. And entire philosophy is contained in that simple idea. “Thank You, God, for what we have…which we know we cannot keep.”
I wish every newlywed couple could capture that incredible concept. If only we realized how brief our time is on earth, then most of the irritants and frustrations which drive us apart would seem terribly insignificant and petty. We have but one short life to live, yet we contaminate it with bickering and insults and angry words.
If we fully comprehend the brevity of life, our greatest desire would be to please God and to serve one another. Instead, the illusions of permanence leads us to scrap and claw for power and demand the best for ourselves.
When all Is said and done, what really matters?
When all is said and done and the books are closing on your life, I believe your treasures will lie close to home. Your most precious memories will focus on those you love, those who loved you, and what you did together in the service of the Lord. Those are the basics. Nothing else will survive the scrutiny of time.
James Dobson is founder of Focus on the Family. This editorial first appeared on his blog.