On New Years day a friend of mine, Layton Shoemaker, passed away unexpectedly. He went for a walk early in the morning, something happened (TBD), he collapsed, and he passed away. He was supposed to be my first call of the work year yesterday. My very first call in 2013. I had been praying for him when I got the news Tuesday afternoon, not knowing what had happened.
Such heavy sadness has burned on me and continues to weigh deeply. But, as I shared with Layton’s sunday school class just 2 weeks ago, we must learn to sit with JOY and SORROW at the same time.
Layton’s passing made my year just get real. Got desires for this year? Me too. The things we talk about doing, but then don’t. The moments we say we will cherish, then we don’t. The people we promise to love, but then continue to ignore. The time in the Word that we hope will come when life slows down, but then we deliberately continue on as if someone else is forcing us to add that 1, 2 or 10 extra things to our day.
We are not the timekeeper of our own lives, but we do get to live intentionally with the time we have. You and I get to choose to live today the way we want, even when our circumstances are less than ideal (or appear to be that way).
Just on Sunday, my pastor preached on Psalm 90, which calls us to live as if our days are numbered. They are, dear friends. They are. Layton’s passing speaks to that.
Layton, just 3 weeks ago, saw me and asked me to call him soon because he wants to do more to help Forgotten Voices. I didn’t call…too busy, I told myself. I’ll call later, I thought. Then 2 weeks ago, he prayed for me before I shared about how his friends at church could get involved in Forgotten Voices. As he prayed, he prayed people listening would open their eyes and embrace the hope and opportunity that is before us to live lives of significance by helping Forgotten Voices.
Now that he has passed on, his family has asked people to give to Forgotten Voices, among 3 other awesome ministries he loved, in lieu of flowers. In that spirit, I invite you to get real with me. Time is short. How will you use yours? How will you use or abuse your money, time, talents, and hearts that, if used differently, may forever change the lives of children AND you?
2013 just got even more real for me. I’m on a mission more than ever. I’m on a mission to draw as many of you as possible closer to the heart of God. I have been called to do this and I’m thankful for the new day to do it. Help Forgotten Voices and me innovate orphan care through the local church. It will be time well spent. Time you may not have tomorrow. Give today at Forgotten Voices…for the children, for you and for Layton.
Happy new year!
-Ryan, a friend to Layton and on a mission