By Pastor Gary Cortese

The opportunity to meet and interact with people from all walks of life is one of the more pleasant parts of my job as a minister. On several occasions, however, after meeting someone for the first time, when they discovered that I also serve the community as a Chaplain, their response to me was: “Nice to meet you – but I don’t ever want to see you again.” In my role as Chaplain, I hope to not have to see you as well (of course, as a pastor, I’d like to see more of you in church).

A Chaplain is often associated with tragedy, so it’s easy to understand why some folks don’t want to see one standing at their door. One of the more difficult parts of the Chaplain’s job is to help the authorities deliver the devastating news that someone has been involved in an accident. This is the worst part of the job. Our Chaplain Division remains committed to helping families navigate through the tough transition of losing a loved one. When we are called to respond we will not leave a family until they have a support system in place. No one should ever have to walk through that dark valley alone.
We all leave this earth eventually. There are no exceptions. Most of us can agree that whatever time we do have seems to go quicker as we age. I’d like to share 3 thoughts on how to make the most of the time we do have.

First of all, I have stood by many a death bed and prayed with countless family members as they said good-bye to their loved one. Here is one thing I have never heard from the dying: “If only I spent more time at the office (away from my family)…” Nor have I ever heard the surviving family members say that they had more-than-enough time on earth with their dearly departed. You see, death has the matchless ability to quickly put things into perspective.

Life is short. Treat every day as if it were your last…because one day it will be. If you knew that today was your last day on earth, would you say, “I love you” one more time? Say it anyway. Would you have been more committed to a relationship, your family, or a life-long dream? Then be so now.

Secondly, to live each day to the fullest doesn’t mean without restraint. We should not throw caution to the wind, rather exercise wisdom and diligence, and remember that you are creating a legacy – good or bad. What are you going to be remembered for? To my community I want to be remembered as a man who loved people and served God. To my children I want to be remembered as “dad” (not pastor) who loved their mother and cherished them - not things. To my grandchildren I want to be remembered as a loving “Pa” who was their biggest fan.

And, finally, since we’re all just passing through…don’t live in the past. Time is much too valuable to waste dwelling on failures and regrets. When you refuse to let go of yesterday, you forfeit tomorrow.

It’s been said that a wise man learns from his mistakes; but a wiser man learns from others’. Learn from those who have gone on ahead and don’t waste another day looking back – let go of yesterday, live today, and reach for tomorrow.