Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. ~ James 4:14 (NIV)
Yesterday, Sara called me with some bad news. Someone we had known from a previous church had passed away. Receiving this kind of news always makes me sad. But, in this instance, what made the news even more shocking was that the individual was only 39 years old.
Aaron Alford was an athletic man in what many would call "the prime of life." He was, like most men his age, hard-working and grabbing life by the reigns.
Aaron showed up for work this past Monday morning, having recently accepted the position of athletic director/assistant football coach at Park City high school. Just another day, business as usual. And then, as he began to go about his daily routine, he was suddenly gone. In a moment, a family suddenly became fatherless.
Thinking back to our time in Park City, I always enjoyed being around Aaron. He was super easy-going and friendly.
He was willing to get involved in ministry. One year he helped out as a game coordinator for VBS. Back in those days, he was an assistant coach for the high-powered University of Utah football team, but he made the time to offer a hand. One time he helped me put together a breakfast event where he provided some Utah Ute players and coaches who loved Jesus to share with the men of our church.
But, perhaps the one thing I will remember most about Aaron was his desire to properly prioritize his life. You see, about a year ago, he made the dramatic decision to step away from the demanding lifestyle of collegiate coaching to spend more time with his wife and children. He sought out work that would keep him closer to home and family. The result? He signed on at the local high school.
I'm sure that some thought his move from college athletics to the high school level was a downward move, but when it came to "being there" for his family...Aaron made a huge step up. For him, the cheers of his beloved family were more important than the roar of an anonymous crowd.
To me, Aaron's life is a powerful reminder to live in the now, and to make God-honoring decisions while we have a heartbeat. It's easy to put things off, but as James so aptly wrote, we really don't know if we'll have a tomorrow.