By Ann Mann
On the first Monday night of the New Year, I sat down to enjoy some mindless entertainment. A much-hyped football game between the Bills and the Bengals. Two great quarterbacks squaring off on the field of play. And minutes into the game, everything changes.
As I watched a young man, Damar Hamlin, get up after a tackle and then collapse onto the field. As I learned the gravity of his injury, it triggered a flood of emotions. A reminder of what really matters. A reminder of how fleeting life is.
To wake up in the morning, with your whole life ahead of you. All your dreams ahead of you. Everything starting to click just like you hoped and dreamed it would. And in an instant, everything changes.
It was like reliving a nightmare. It was a trigger to remember my own personal pain. My own loss. My mind flashed back to the last day with my husband. He was having a good day. We were excited about our future with this new appointment to Barnesville First United Methodist Church.
We were talking about him coming home from the hospital. And then he said he needed to lie back down. He stood up. Then he sat down in the bed, and he never got up again. In an instant, everything changes.
Back to that tragic Monday night. For hours I couldn’t help but watch and wait as the announcers were asked to walk us through the unthinkable. We learned this young man needed CPR. Surely not a good sign. He is taken by ambulance from the field, his future uncertain.
We see players and coaches from both sides on their knees, praying to the God who came to be with us. The God who sees us. The God who feels our pain. The God who will walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. And we remember what matters most.
What matters most is living each day as if it is our last. Making each moment count. Making a difference. Truly being present in the moment. Not leaving things unsaid. Saying I love you every chance we get.
As we begin a new year, we can make resolutions we may or may not keep. Promises to eat better, to exercise more, to save more money. These are admirable goals. But there is one resolution that matters more. The one resolution that prepares us for the moment when everything changes. We can commit to live each day with Jesus.
As the days have gone by since that first Monday night of the year, we learned that Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest. And within a week of falling to the ground, he is making a miraculous recovery. That moment when everything changed is still having an impact.
This past weekend, players and coaches from both teams once again got on their knees, praying to the God who came to save us from our sins. The God who wants more for us than we can ask or imagine. So, as we begin this new year, may we always remember what matters most. Living each day with Jesus.
(Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is email@example.com.)