The 16th day of October 2011 is a day I will never forget in a hurry. It was the third Sunday of the month, and I sat with other choristers in my local church serving God the best way I knew. At the right time, the pastor's wife climbed the altar, and politely invited the choir to minister.
Enthusiastically we stood up with smiles on our faces, looking expectantly at our music director to tell us what to do. We had rehearsed earlier that morning, so we expected everything to be perfect.
I was standing on the fourth row with other tenor singers when the song started. Heartily I sang along, trying to make sure that I did not miss my part. Moreover I had this trick of lip syncing if I wasn't so sure of my part. (It's a secret! You'd better not tell my choir director.)
Suddenly, I couldn't sing anymore. I got all choked up, and warm tears started streaming down my cheeks uncontrollably.
This wasn't part of what we rehearsed earlier. I was putting on a nice suit, and was supposed to maintain decorum, but I couldn't help it. The song hit me like sharp knives, and the lyrics poked into the deepest part of my conscience.
It was a very short song by Don Moen, but with a powerful message that said:
When it's all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?
When it's all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I did for love's reward
Will stand the test of time.
I will live my life for you 4x.
I broke down in tears.
I started thinking of all the things that mattered to me: a good job; a fat bank account; posh cars; prestigious academic qualifications; a nice house in a cool estate, etc.
But then it hit me, material acquisitions weren't worth living for. And in the final analysis, none of my possessions will matter.
Quickly, I started letting go of all my cares and worries. All those material goals & aspirations that I clutched so tightly to lost their value. Suddenly, I started to have a re-think. "Only what I did for love's reward will stand the test of time..."
What can I do for love's reward?
I can't do much, but I can stand for integrity privately and publicly.
I can give unsolicited advice to that young kid on the verge of making a life threatening mistake.
I can give a little money to that motherless babies' I see each morning on my way to work.
I can visit the hospital close to my house and comfort someone who is in pain.
I can make out time to pray for all the people who are being attacked by terrorists.
I can give some money to support missionaries and other voluntary workers living under life threatening conditions.
I can inspire hope in that depressed teenager who thinks he won't amount to much in life because his drunken father abandoned him as a kid.
I can pay the transport fare for that haggard looking old man who has not been paid his pension in months.
I can counsel that young lady who "hates" men because her "uncle" abused her as a kid.
I can visit that lonely old widow down my street, buy her flowers and make her smile.
I can send a simple text to encourage that depressed man I met in the bank earlier today.
I cannot do much, but I can make a difference with the little I can do.
In the end, I would not want to have a room decorated with laminated certificates of merit, plaques of honour and gold cups of achievement.
I would not want to know what my account balance reads nor would I really care about how many national awards I'd received.
I would not ask for the number of cars I have, nor would it matter to me how many estates are in my name.
In the end, it won't matter how many politicians I know, nor will the number of countries I'd visited make a difference to me.
The Things that will Matter Most
I will want to be surrounded by loved ones. People who consider me "family" not because of blood ties, but because of the value I added to their lives.
I will want to be in a room filled with happy and crying faces. Happy because I will be going home, and sad, because they will miss me.
I will want to have a smile planted on my face as I say my last words, because I will be dying empty.
I will want to have a death register signed by strangers who consider me family because out of nowhere I picked them up and gave them fresh hope of a bright future.
I will want to know that my life counted for something, and that I made a difference in someone's life.
To me, that is what matters most.
I can't do much, but I will make a difference with the little I can do.