Her family called this Johnson City, Tennessee girl “quirky,” but by all accounts, Taylor Scout Smith was a deeply spiritual young lady who loved God and was excited to do mission work.
While rummaging through their daughter’s things, Taylor’s parents spied a letter Taylor wrote to herself on April 13, 2013, which was to be opened on that same day exactly ten years later. Taylor specified that the letter was for her eyes only “unless said otherwise,” as she put it. Her parents took this as permission to open it.
While some of the letter deals with whimsical interests, such as visits to Dollywood and episodes of Dr. Who, Taylor also encourages her future self to graduate high school and get a college degree.
Now, if you’re wondering whether Taylor’s parents violated their daughter’s privacy, you need to know that tragedy struck their family early this year. Just after Christmas, Taylor died suddenly of complications from pneumonia. It’s a scenario no parent should have to endure, but sharing Taylor’s letter with others is helping them work through their grief.
Her death also lends a greater weight to the message she wanted her future self to ponder. Permit me to quote this part in full. “How’s your relationship with God? Have you prayed, worshipped, read the Bible or gone to serve the Lord recently? If not, get up and do so NOW! I don’t care what point in our life we’re in right now, do it. He was mocked, beaten, tortured, and crucified for you! A sinless man, who never did you or any other person any wrong! Now, have you gone on any more mission trips?”
Wow. We may be old and infirm or young and full of vitality, but death comes for us all, and none of us knows the time in advance. St. Anthony, who founded desert monasticism in the third century, felt that a Christian should always be mindful of his death.
He wrote, “If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle’s words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts.”
Now, how many of us can say that we could meet death today with an unfettered heart? Are we prepared to meet our Maker, or are our spirits weighed down or distracted with bills to pay, kids to pick up from the drama club, or that TV show to watch?
Another question is, “What are we putting aside until later that we should be doing now?” Taylor told herself not to wait another day, not even another moment, to pray and worship God, to read the Bible and serve the Lord.
Can any of this really important stuff wait? No, says a young lady who now resides in God’s glory. Don’t wait another moment to praise God for your blessings or to tell another that God has reconciled us to Himself. Don’t wait another moment to tell your family that you love them or that you’re sorry for what you’ve done. And while you’re at it, offer a prayer of consolation for Taylor’s family and friends.
Taylor’s letter ends with an uncanny statement about the uncertainty of life. She wrote, “It’s been ten years since I wrote this. Stuff has happened good and bad. That’s how life works, and you have to go with it.”
Indeed. If we aren’t careful, the craziness of life can pull all of us away from what really matters. Thank God that He gave us such an important reminder in the words of a faithful girl.
— by Eric Metaxas
Metaxas is currently the voice of Breakpoint, a radio commentary (www.breakpoint.org). Copyright© 2014 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.