Friday, October 4, 2013

The Value of a Life

I walked into the hospital room with two giggly girls hanging on my legs and saw her lying there.

“Hi Grandma, how are you feeling?”

She stared at me blankly, her finger tapping her chin. Always, always tapping her chin.

“The girls and I wanted to come see you. Do you remember my girls?”


“Are you feeling okay today?”

A pause, and then…“Yeah anaummumushiminishumish…”

“I know. I know.”

What is the value of a life?

I’ll tell you what it is not.

The value of a life is not the level of contribution it can make to society. It is not the amount of productivity it can achieve. It is not the sum of money or power or talents it possesses. The value of a life is not in its achievements or even its potential.

Because the value of a life is not centered on the life itself. It is centered on the Life-Giver.


The Creator.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

A newborn baby, red and screaming and full of the breath of life. A curly headed toddler with her hand stuck in the toilet and full of grace and wonder. A child running through a field, full of reckless amazement and pleasure and youth. A teenager discovering how to navigate this life and full of questions and potential.  Moms and dads and businessmen and women, teachers, public servants, leaders, artists, all reflecting aspects of the image of the One who formed them from the dust and breathed life into them.

A baby yet unformed and maybe even unwanted but covered with the fingerprints of a loving Creator. A mentally challenged adult who will never be able to live on his own. The triathlete who wrecked his bike and is now a quadriplegic. My grandmother, 20 years down a road we call Alzheimer’s, unable to talk coherently or stand up and walk or even swallow her own spit, lying in a hospital bed with her finger tapping her chin and her eyes hazing over. All reflecting the great glory and grace and infinite love – the image of the One who formed them from the dust and breathed life into them.

My grandma used to cook the best macaroni and cheese in the entire universe, and I am not even stretching that truth. She was a nurse who took care of others and raised the man who taught me what it means to walk with God. She was full of potential and service and productivity and she made a difference.

And she breathed because the Life-Giver breathed into her.

And she still breathes that holy breath of life.

And I left that hospital room with the firmest conviction that my grandmother is just as valuable today as she has ever been.