While cleaning up this morning, I came across an odd assortment of papers on the floor in our closet: a ballet ticket to Romeo and Juliet, a receipt from my favorite jewelry store in Southpark Mall and an old bulletin from a church service. I was so struck I sat down on the floor. August 28, 2007. Had it really been 6 years? My mind retreated to memories that seemed way to fresh to be that old. I could not quit looking at the photo on the front of the bulletin. Dark curls and sweet dark eyes. He looked so sweet, just staring up at the camera. He would have been eight.
Jude came into my life with a torrent of emotion that August in 2007. I was at my parent's house and Chris was at home. He called me, relayed the news, and asked me to pray. A simple request took a grip of my heart in a way that was unusual for me. Jude's grandfather had found him in their swimming pool. He was unconscious when he was pulled from the water. Now at the hospital, in a comatose state, the request was simply for Jude to wake up.
And so I prayed for Jude to wake up. I prayed often and fervently. I wrote in my journal and scribbled a couple of poems about Jude, always pleading for Jude to wake up. I would go for a walk and pray...and pray and walk. It was often difficult because of other experiences I have had in praying fervently for healing, but I prayed just the same. It was difficult to have faith, to believe that Jude might wake up, but I prayed with all the faith I had and hoped that God would see the truth of my heart.
Jude never did wake up.
But Jude changed my life. At the time I could tell that his life and death had a profound impact on me. How could they not as I wrestled in prayer for him for day after day in August? But now, six years later, I can say that his impact on me was not just in the moment. His life and death is a factor that shapes me daily. I am different because of Jude, a two year old boy who drowned in his grandparent's pool.
I was 40 years old as I prayed for Jude. As I walked and prayed I would think also about how old forty is... and how young it is. If I lived to eighty, I'm halfway there. I began to see that life was more fleeting and precious than I had previously acknowledged. I began to realize that living from day to day and week to week was not how I wanted to live. I needed to have a deeper sense of purpose and drive. I began to hear this line over and over again in my subconscious: don't waste your life. It seems like a typical response to such a tragedy, but it was more than that for me. I read John Piper's book, Don't Waste Your Life. I listened to Lecrae rap out the line over and over again.
But it was not just emotion for me. It refined me. God used it to renew his calling on my life to disciple younger believers. I became convicted that I needed to steward my physical body better so that I can be here and be healthy for longer. I still think about it regularly now; what does God want me to do with my finite life? Lately it has been a season of care giving and preparation, and still discipling and mentoring. This spring Chris and I weathered a ten-day period when we thought I might have cancer. While it was incredibly stressful, I did not have regrets. No wishful thoughts about how I have chosen to spend my time. I felt affirmed that I'm not wasting my life; I'm living it as God desires and to his glory.
I never knew Jude in person. He was only two years old, but he changed my life. Isn't that just like the God we worship?