I was 33 when Catie was diagnosed and 38 when she died. During my 20s and 30s, the pressures, responsibilities, busyness, and entertaining distractions of life kept me focused on the here and now. I should have spent more time contemplating long-term life and death issues. But not until the reality of Catie’s journey was in my face did I invest much time wrestling with the big questions.
I’m still not a deep, introspective thinker, but I’m more that way now than I was 30-years ago. Losing a child brought me face-to-face with some significant truths: There are questions our human minds will never answer. There will always be more to do than we can accomplish. And life is certainly too valuable to be squandered on the soap bubbles of fun and games.
Questioning, working, and playing are all valuable life elements. But too much or too little of any of them can be problematic. As I've reflected on the value and significance of life in light of Catie’s death, I’ve settled on a different approach to living. I don’t always do it well, but my hope is to live an Ambassadorial Adventure.
What is an Ambassadorial Adventure? I’m glad you asked.
Any adventure, by definition, requires an unknown outcome. We are not supposed to know all the answers. Along the way we face challenges, choices, risks, and opportunities. Adventures include the elements of learning, hard work, and fun, but they are so much more.
As Christians we are called to enter an Ambassadorial Adventure, and that begins by understanding our true home. Paul described this as a new citizenship: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” (Colossians 1:13) We are now citizens of God’s eternal kingdom. Our new homeland has issued us new passports, and we have been given visas to stay in this world.
Paul deepens the imagery to the Corinthians, “We are therefore Christ's ambassadors.” (2 Corinthians 5:20a). As ambassadors, we now have a diplomatic passport; therefore, we work and play in this world as representatives of our true homeland. We express the truth of our King in word and deed, and we embody the values of our celestial culture.
As our Ambassadorial Adventure unfolds, we invariably encounter turbulence. Sometimes the disturbances are minor: we lose our keys, stub our toe, or forget an assignment. But sometimes the turmoil is severe. We lose our job, the diagnosis is cancer, a spouse abandons their marital vows, or death calls close to home.
Part of the adventure is responding with “ambassadorial” poise and dignity when turbulence strikes. We can choose to respond in one of three ways when troubles – big or small – shake our world.
We can deny the problem. We keep a stiff upper lip and forge ahead as if nothing happened. That didn’t hurt.
We can respond with anger, bitterness, or anxiety. Someone will pay for this.
We can learn, grow, and benefit from the pain. How can I use this hard experience to become better ambassadors for our King?
Learning, growing, and benefiting from our adventure’s pain is easier said than done. The more we align our choices and actions with the One we serve, the more this life becomes about Him and less about us.
As Christ’s ambassadors, we are provided the power, love, and support we need to face the turbulence with confidence – not denying, not fighting, but becoming more and more like the King we represent.