Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's your mark?

Lately, I've been thinking about how valuable life is.  I often hear stories about people who have died in tragic accidents or from diseases.  I see their smiling faces in photographs that have merely snapped a glimpse of who they were when they were still alive.  Life is precious.  I forget that sometimes.

A few months ago, I read about a girl named Shannon Tavarez.  At eleven years old, she'd already achieved remarkable success in her life.  She was Young Nala in New York's Broadway show of "Lion King."  She was known for her big voice, beautiful smile, and determined spirit.  Last April, Shannon discovered she had a serious form of cancer called acute myelogenous leukemia and would shannon-tavarez.jpgrequire a bone marrow transplant to save her life.  Unfortunately, Shannon was part Hispanic and part black, so it was nearly impossible to find a perfect bone marrow match.  Multiple celebrities such as Alicia Keys and Rihanna rallied for Shannon, begging people to be tested and donate bone marrow for Shannon, in hopes of saving her life.  Even 50 Cent offered to donate his own marrow if he was a match.

Unfortunately, on November 1, 2010, Shannon succumbed to leukemia after a six month battle.  Her death was a huge blow for the many people who had rallied for her and tried so hard to save her.  How discouraging!  Shannon was so young.  She had such a promising future.  And suddenly, she was gone.

When I first heard about Shannon's death, I was incredibly discouraged.  "After all that," I thought to myself, "after so many people stood up and fought with her, she still died.  This is one of the most depressing stories I've ever heard."  However, Shannon's story doesn't have to be so depressing.  Her legacy encouraged people to donate their marrow and be tested... and that donated marrow will save lives.  Many celebrities donated their time (and even offered their own marrow!) for Shannon's cause.  Shannon taught so many people empathy and positivity and sacrifice and hope.

Shannon's death was very tragic.  She was only eleven years old... and her death could have been prevented if the right bone marrow match had come forward.  But Shannon stayed positive and strong, and she made the best out of the life she had.

You may be having a difficult time in your life right now.  You may be struggling so badly that you feel like you're drowning in a world where nobody understands, where nobody cares.  I've been there before.  I've contemplated and even attempted suicide.  I've been there.  Life is a gift, but it can be very hard at times.  If you're struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide right now, please remember the value of the life you've been given.  God gave you your life for a reason.  Deuteronomy 14:2 says that the Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession.  You're His.  You're valued.  Your life is precious.

Three years ago, a friend of mine committed suicide.  In one moment of recklessness, he ended his entire life.  He stopped the plans God was working in his life.  He abandoned his purpose because he didn't think life was worth living anymore.  Gatlin had so much potential.  He was smart and kind and talented.  But he gave it all up.  It's difficult to come to terms with the fact that your loved one didn't find your friendship enough of a reason to stay alive.  That's tough.

If you or a loved one or an acquaintance is contemplating suicide, please seek help.  Life is precious.  Nothing is worth destroying the plans that God has made for you.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you shannon-tavarez1.jpgand not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  Life is precious.

You may have been walking through life recently, trying to wish the time away.  "I'm tired of high school.  I just can't wait till I graduate."  "Life is so hard right now.  If only I could move forward a year or two."  "I wish I could make time go faster."

We don't know how much time God has given us.  But whatever situation you're in right now, try to savor every moment you've been given.  Today will be the only February 16, 2011 you'll ever experience.  Don't waste it.

You may have fifty years left of your life.  You may die today.  James 4:14 says, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."  Make the moments you've got count.  Shannon Tavarez made a legacy with the little time she had.  She changed lives with her determination and her joy.  She helped to save lives by asking people to donate their bone marrow.  She gave people hope.  Shannon's life was short, like a mist, but she made a mark on the world with the time she had.

Make every moment worth living.  Your life is so valuable.  Don't let it go to waste.

How will you leave your mark?

I got the pictures used in today's entry here and here.

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