That's my friend on the right since early childhood, David Scowden. David grew up about three houses up the hill from my Grandma Margaret in Branson. David and I shared many memories together growing up. We graduated together from Branson and were roommates in college for a time. Most recently, we shared another more somber memory. Our mothers passed away 40 minutes apart.
David and I are different in many ways, but we are also very similar. I always enjoy our conversations, shared memories of movies and music over the years, shared memories of Branson before the tourism boom, shared love for laughter.
David and I had one of our "chats" tonight. He had tried to reach me last week, saying he was in a melancholy mood reflecting on his 50 years and what his life has been like, what accomplishments he has made, and how much more life lay ahead. I turn 50 in a couple of months, and I must say, I've been reflecting a lot myself. What really IS important in life? What impact have I made? What dreams have I wasted?
As we talked, I recalled a video I saw at church a couple of Sundays ago. The video was of a minister who was forced to retire due to ALS. Over his many years of being a pastor, he recalled how each day he would get countless phone calls. He loved preaching in front of the congregation, feeling needed and feeling important.
Now, he recalled his first day in forced retirement not receiving one call. He wasn't needed anymore.
Rather than going down the road of self-pity and despair, however, this man chose a different path. "To live like Jesus lived," as he put it. So each day he would hang out with people. He would talk with anyone who needed a friend. A homeless man. An elderly widow. A college student unsure of his path ahead. While battling the physical ravages of his disease, this gentle soul found a renewed purpose for his life. Touching other lives...one at a time.
I'm soon to be 50. I had dreams earlier in my life of writing lots of books, being a profesional athlete, being a national sports broadcaster. I've had to let go of many of these dreams for different reasons. However, as I move into this next phase of my life, I find myself excited about the adventure that lies ahead. Each day is a new opportunity to touch lives one at a time with the love of Christ. Each day God brings different people across my path through phone calls, emails, and personal encounters. It may be the gas station attendant, the teller at the bank...a friend of one of my sons. Each day I get the opportunity to love others the way God loves me. Some days I blow it. Some days I marvel at the beauty of it.
Thanks, Daver, for always being there for me, and reminding me of the deeper, simpler, and beautiful things in life. May we measure our success in life not on past mistakes or future conquests, but rather on present opportunities to touch a life.
One at a time.