A few years ago, I was reading the news on a Tuesday morning and noted that two firefighters had died fighting blazes driven by Santa Ana winds in Riverside County. I paused briefly, thinking how regularly such tragedies occur and about loved ones left in the wake. My eye then jumped to the next headline and I was off and reading about some national event.
I barely gave those two men who had given their lives in the line of duty a second thought until my cousin, Laurie, called and informed me that one of them was our cousin, Tom Wall, a fire captain in Tustin. Suddenly, this news headline I had breezed by became terribly pertinent to me. Tom was the son of my father’s brother, Herb, who himself had died out of due season in his late 40s. Though I hadn’t known Tom well, I had enjoyed getting acquainted with him at a family reunion a few years earlier. Tom and several cousins were capable musicians and I had greatly enjoyed the bluegrass music they shared with the Wall clan.
As I drove to the office that day, I sped by a number of nameless faces. A mother pushing a stroller. Students playing in a school playground. A man running across traffic lanes. Random faces in passing cars. I briefly glanced at their faces, as one scanning the morning news. I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. In all likelihood, I’d never see them again.
Then it struck me. To our heavenly Father, they were more than just passing headlines, glanced over and quickly forgotten. God knows the number of hairs on their heads. God knows when they sit and when they rise. God perceives their thoughts from afar. God cares about each of them personally. God gave his one and only son for them on Good Friday and raised him on Easter Sunday. God desires for them to have the abundant life that is found in Jesus Christ.
Two concluding thoughts: First, you are a person who matters deeply to God. If you ever doubt this, consider the investment God has made in creating planet Earth, our solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and the billions of galaxies that make up our universe. Consider our place in the cosmos, having been invited to help steward and care for God’s good creation. Consider the many and various ways God has sought to communicate with humankind through the history of the patriarchs and matriarchs, judges and priests, prophets and prophetesses, kings and queens, and sages of Israel. Consider the lengths to which God went to come to Earth in human form, to teach and heal and bless, then ultimately to be crucified for our sins and to be raised for our justification. Consider the story of the Church, which seeks, however imperfectly, to share the good news of Jesus and to embody God’s grace in the world. This Easter, may we praise God for this grand sweeping biblical and historical story that we are part of!
Second, those strangers whom you zip by each day also matter deeply to God. See if you can find some way this week to show one of them that they, too, are precious in God’s sight. A happy and blessed Easter to you and yours!