Mike’s first job was a newspaper route, trudging through snow, dodging rain, walking the streets where he and I lived as neighbors in upstate New York, As a kid, I remember seeing him walk past our house with a loaded newspaper sack over his shoulder, each paper removed quickly from the bag, efficiently folded into a tight missile and hurled from the sidewalk into doorways and onto front steps. He saved the money he made and bought a motorcycle, his first ride, when he was finally old enough to drive.
He never stopped working after that. When we were first married money was tight, as it is for most couples starting out. Mike took a second job delivering newspapers but now had me to assist. We’d get up at 3 AM every morning. Yawning and blurry eyed, I asked him “Why so early?” He replied, “I guess people like to read the paper with breakfast.”
He taught me how to fold a newspaper into a threefold locked and loaded missile and he’d fire them from the open window of our 1967 Chevy Impala into doorways and and onto front steps. He rarely missed.
Every employer Mike worked for through the years, moved him quickly into a management position. They saw the same diligence in him I did. My husband was always a hard worker and wise money manager. I never had to worry there wouldn’t be a roof over head, food on the table, a car to drive, clothes to wear.
If there was such a thing as a Proverbs 31 man, he fit the description perfectly. He was a Superman provider. He took care of everyone he loved, mostly at his own neglect.
I can’t stop thinking about how he left me several weeks ago. They handed me back his wedding ring and the few items in his pockets and took him away with nothing but the clothes on his back. Every material thing he worked for, our home furnished with craigslist.com bargain treasures, two cars in the driveway, a closet full of clothes, all of it, left behind. He took none of it with him.
There are moments in life that create a seismic shift in priorities and this is one of them. While I’m grateful for a home and the things needed to live on this planet, I’m acutely aware of what matters most.
Jesus summed it up in Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
In the midst of all his hard work, Mike loved his Heavenly Daddy fiercely and he cared deeply for people. His most recent sermon, preached several months ago, was titled, ‘People Matter,’ and many are now calling, writing or stopping to tell me how he touched their life. Everywhere we lived and everywhere he worked, he made a positive difference.
When the last breath leaves your lungs, when all is said and done, the only thing you take with you is the spirit God placed within you and the impact of the people your life has touched. If we are meant to invest in anything between birth and death, it is these.
If you don’t have a personal relationship with God, get one. Now! He has waited since eternity to love you. He wants you with Him when you leave here. So did Mike. So do I.
And every morning when you greet a new sunrise, be intentional in positively impacting every person who enters your day. Lift a life. Love them right where they are and show them they are valued.
Because in the end this is the conclusion of the matter.
This is the ONLY thing that counts.