So reads the last status update on FaceBook from a young man by the name of Justin Berry.
Last night (December 12, 2011), Justin was driving on Oklahoma 10 outside of Miami, Oklahoma. It was a rainy, cold night in Oklahoma, and not easy to see on some of these country roads we have in our state. A man swerved into Justin’s lane hitting him head on. Justin died immediately.
I did not know Justin personally, but I am connected with some people who called him friend. Even though you don’t know someone personally, when you hear of the death of one so young (only 24 years old) your heart breaks.
After I heard about this accident, I went to Justin’s FaceBook page where I read the posts that appeared after his death. Page after page of people thanking him for who he was. Comments like:
“You were a true friend”
“You called every week just to see how I was doing.”
“Thank you for making me laugh.”
“I remember when I felt alone and you had me sit with you and you said, ‘You are cool in my book.’”
“That time I didn’t have anything cool to wear and you told me that I was the only one that could pull off what I was wearing. This gave me so much confidence. Thank you.”
On and on I read. Before long I found myself truly wishing that I had known this young man named Justin Berry.
Then I got to the last moments of his life on FaceBook, and his last post said simply: “This day did not start well”
I don’t know what happened that his day had not started well – I know we all have bad days – but then it hit me. From what I could see reflected in his FaceBook page, even though one particular day had not started well, his life certainly had.
It appears that Justin really cared about people and after all, people are what truly matter in this life. God cares about people and He has asked us to do the same.
I began to wonder – if Justin had known he had just a few short hours left before an oncoming car ended his life, would he have let those little things ruin his day? You know – those little things that put us in a bad mood and cause us to call our day a “bad day.” Would those little things have even mattered to him?
I don’t know what Justin did on his last day on earth. He may have had a great day. He may have started it over from the time he made his last post. (It is possible to restart our day at any moment; at any time. I hope that’s what Justin did. )
A few days before his death, Justin posted this statement,
One reason why you can do something is worth more than one hundred why you can’t.
What a great philosophy from one so young.
When a loss like this happens, it should cause each one of us to stop and think how fragile life can be. I know it did for me. It made me think to call the ones I love and thank them and remind them how much they mean to me.
What if today I lived my day just like any other, and on the way home someone swerved into my lane? Would I have lived this life in a way that people really knew I cared about them? Some of you may be thinking, Well of course — you’re a Pastor. Your job is people.
While this may be true I still have to ask myself – am I living my life to the fullest? Do I have a genuine care for the people around me, because in the end that is what matters.
Today, if my life were taken unexpectedly – even if it didn’t start well, would it finish that way? Did I hug my kids today in a way that I cherish that moment? Did I honor the ones around me? Did I help those who needed help? Did I encourage those who needed encouragement? Did I love those who may not even deserve it?
Each one of us needs to stop periodically and take stock of how we are living and determine to live each day as though it were the last. History has proven that success in life has no effect if there is no contribution to others. Let those around you know just how important they are to you.
Determine to live life to the fullest each day – as though it were your last day. And if it were – how would your FaceBook posts stack up? Would your page have endless stories of how you reached out and helped and how you made a difference in the lives of others?
I hope mine would.
Jeremy Donovan is youth pastor for the Seven Youth Ministries of Destiny Life Church – Claremore and Owasso, OK. He lives in Owasso with his wife, Annie and two children, Cadence and Cale.