Ephesians 5:15-16, Joshua 10:12-15

Steve Gambill considers how to turn fleeting moments into forever memories.

Steve Gambill
Steve Gambill

'Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.' (Ephesians 5:15-16)

It was a cold winter day when my father Dennis, with tears streaming down his face choked out the words. "Steve, your grandpa Ray has lung cancer. He doesn't have long left, just a few days at most, so I'm going to take you to see him for the last time today. The doctors found lung cancer like a shadow in his lung before Christmas, but we didn't want it to ruin your Christmas, so today will probably be the last time you see him."

I was stunned. My 15 year old brain could not comprehend the words, 'lung cancer', or 'last time'. My Grandfather Ray was always so physically strong. He was a rancher, a horse trainer, a concrete worker, who was only in his 50's. The silence of the car ride seemed deafening to my two sisters and I, as we journeyed to the little ranch Grandpa lived on.

As I entered the front door, there was Grandpa not lying in bed asleep as I expected, but sitting up, cracking jokes, laughing and smiling as I entered. My siblings and I rushed over and he gave us the biggest hug despite him being connected to more tubes and medical machines than I had ever seen before in my life.

The little dusty front room of his static home, was filled with all of my extended family. Suddenly almost as if on cue, everyone left the room leaving just my grandfather and me alone. It was then I realised that my Dad had arranged for each of us to have a short time alone with Grandpa

I sensed that these last moments of his clarity were a gift. What I didn't know was that Grandpa was summoning all of his remaining strength, to create a memory to bring each of us in his final moments of time on the earth.

"Stevie", he said to me, "I want you to know how much I love you, and your sisters and your Dad and all your family. You're going to do great things someday Stevie. I believe that for you and about you." You have a gift for people and for music. Promise me that you will make the most out of your life."

With an eloquence I had rarely seen in him, he went on to tell me stories of his childhood, his parents and memories he had of my Dad. As he spoke, it was as if time stood still. And then with a mischievous grin, he said, "And promise me in all your music that you will learn how to play guitar."

Then with tears streaming from his eyes, and yet still with a smile on his face, he gave the biggest and longest hug I think he had ever given me, squeezing me with all of his strength. After the squeeze, just like that, our time together was over. My Dad came and brought me into the little kitchen while my next family member took my place at his bedside.

That was the last time I saw my Grandpa. He died three days later. Yet I still remember that embrace 37 years later as if it were yesterday.

My Grandpa modelled something to me that day that I will never forget. To make the very most of the moments that we have. And when we do, those moments become memories that last forever.

In the Bible there's a story of Joshua asking God for the sun to stand still, and it did. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day, (Joshua 10:12-15). When I look back on that time with my Grandfather, it was truly a moment when time stood still.

Here's what I am feel compelled by God to urge you with.

1) If this was your last day, your last moments, how would you spend it?
2) If you could choose your last words to the ones you love the most what should they be?

So whatever that would be for you, do it. Do it now.

I often hear from leaders young and old, I wish I had more time. I am too busy. Too busy to see my kids, my wife or husband or family.

I believe that because God is perfect, He created time perfectly. I believe that 24 hours is just enough. It's not so much time that we can't squander it, or take it for granted. But it is enough every day if we realise how precious are the seconds to say and do the things that really matter. To finish what we start, and to start today what we have been putting off for years.

I pray as we close our brief time together, that you would never be too busy for what and who matters most. Make the most of the moment, and the moments will make you.

Further study

Psalm 31:15 My times are in your hands
Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times all you people
Be like the ant Proverbs 6:6-15
Colossians 4:5
Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.