Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Living Intentionally

Every now and then, something rocks my fairly stable world. It has to be something significant and completely relevant to me, otherwise it won't really "hit home". This past week, something has both shook my stable world and hit home in my heart.

Our neighbors, Chuck and Sherri Leason and their two two teenagers, Tyler and McKenzie, have been some of the neatest people we've known ever since we first met them. They are a typical, happy, Christian home school family with a nice mom, nice dad, and nice kids with a nice house in a nice community (Our community! I could add with nice neighbors, too, but that would be too obvious. :). Everything nice, that is, until last week.

Mr. Leason had been having severe headaches for a few days in a row while his wife, Sherri, was on a trip visiting family in Minnesota. When Mr. Leason informed his wife that he felt like his body was going numb, Mrs. Leason came back immediately and took him into a natropath doctor. They were told he was simply fighting a head cold and sinus infection. Not so sure they felt okay with this explanation, the couple went to their medical doctor for further analysis. What the doctor told them has changed their lives forever. Mr. Leason was diagnosed with brain cancer, in the fourth (worst) stage, and after a biopsy, the tumor was found to be in his brain stem and fast growing, getting to an enormous size in only two months. The doctors have proclaimed him beyond medical help.

His family, as devastated as they well should be, have not lost hope, but are pulling together in remarkable ways. Almost overnight, it seems, family members have been showing up from all around the country, pouring out their well-founded concern on kind Mr. Leason. My family and many of the families of our friends, have had the blessing of helping the Leasons during their time of need with healthful, all-raw, all-organic, meals. With only a few days left to decide whether or not they want to do chemotherapy, the Leasons are going all-out on natural remedies - the balanced prescription of a natural doctor who has helped many people out of scary situations like this one. Besides all of that, however, Mr. Leason stands this moment on the verge of death. Every day is just another lived through and another moment closer to his fast approaching destiny.

My Dad visited him in the hospital, just two nights before he was released to come home, and came home with a shining report. No, the cancer hadn't disappeared, and no, the doctor hadn't announced that he was heading towards a better direction. But Dad had a story to tell. He walked right into the ICU room and saw the nurses, Sherri and Chuck. Chuck was sitting up in bed, talking in an animated way with his wife, and they both were delighted to see my Dad. And then Mr. Leason began to talk. He talked and talked and talked, my Dad told us. We were shocked. Mr. Leason - talk? He was the kind of guy who was kind and thoughtful, so much so that he had a reputation for it, but who was so quiet that in the midst of a chattering group, he'd just stand to the side, smiling and nodding, holding his wife's hand. He wasn't shy, but he wasn't a talker, either. Then Dad went on to tell us that Mr. Leason didn't say a thing about how distressing his situation was, only how great it was for him to be in a place of great ministry. He was delighted that he could shine the love of Christ to so many medical professionals, and felt that Jesus had him there for that purpose. He laughed over and over again with my Dad, telling him how God was blessing him as he sat there in that bed, with a hole in his head (from the biopsy) and cancer spreading terminally throughout his body. And then he said something interesting. He told my Dad, "As soon as I get out of here, things are going to change in my life and my family's. It's time to live intentional."

That buzzed around in my brain for awhile until my brother, Stephen, and my sister, Rachel, went to visit them with my Dad after Mr. Leason had been brought home, just yesterday afternoon.

"Mr. Leason," Stephen said, upon his return, "was sitting up at the kitchen table when we walked in the house. He was laughing with his sister and daughter," Stephen's eyes showed what I was thinking: surprise. "He shook Dad's hand and wouldn't let go of it for a long time. When he shook my hand, he didn't let go of it until it was time to leave. He told me that as soon as he was over this, he was going to write so many books on the power of God and the evidence of Him in our lives; he said that his family was going to be active for Christ, and that we we going to have the greatest community ever. He said that there were so many people ready to receive Christ and in fact, his own sister received Jesus in her heart that very morning. He was so passionate," my brother said, "and by the way he held my hand, it was like he was trying to tell me something so important, and something so time-sensitive that he didn't even know if he had enough time to tell me. When you walked in the room, the grace of God was absolutely there. I could feel it."

And then it struck me. That's what living intentional is all about. It's about having a purpose, a goal, a desire...an intent, that consumes you, inflames you, and empowers you to fulfill it. A person has never floated through life and lived intentionally, with a goal, with a vision. And just then something else struck me. No one has ever achieved anything spectacular without being intentional. People don't simply wake up one morning to the knowledge of, "Hey, I'm a best-selling author!" Or, "Wha'd'ya know, I'm a movie star!" Or even, "I'm the pastor of the largest church in Kentucky - and hello! I didn't even do a thing to get here!" That's impossible because it goes against logic. But then why is it that we Christians of the Gospel - the good news, the people of the very Word of God, and the people with the greatest responsibility to mankind, sit around and "wait" for the great happenings to happen? And why are we content to float through life with never a thought on what we're actually doing? This should bother a whole lot more people than it does. Why is it that it takes something as serious as a friend getting cancer to "wake" us up?

I'm determined not to wait until something dreadful plagues my life or those dearest to me before I live with a purpose. I shouldn't be planning on living with fiery goals, I should be living them. Anything can happen to any of us at any time. And it might be me next. Or you. That serves as enough reason for me to get off my couch, and out of my house, and into yours - and it should be for everyone.

Life doesn't last forever...or does it?


Cheri said...

AMEN, Sarah! What a testimony!

Leah said...

Wow, what a challenge Sarah! I like that.. living intentionally. Just recently I had some similiar thoughts along those lines - how that life is so short. We only have a short time of life here on this earth. If God closes a door on something in our lives, that doesn't mean we should just give up and sit around like a "couch potato", wondering what we should do. ;) I'm challenged once again to seize the time that I do have... and use it to glorify God in whatever means is possible. Isn't that our whole purpose here on this earth??.. to glorify God? I too have had thoughts along the lines of, "Why does it take something like death or a person hearing that they only have a certain amount of time left, to do anything important?" I think it's because it wakes a person up to realize that this life is short.

Wow, thank you for sharing all that Sarah! Love you!

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