Editor’s note: A memorial service was held July 7 in Westfield, NJ, for Bill Forbes, a much-loved church leader who died June 30 after battling pancreatic cancer for several years. A mainstay at General Assemblies for more than 30 years, Forbes wrote the following excerpted reflection last summer during the 218th General Assembly in San Jose, CA. — Jerry L. Van Marter

Pancreatic cancer has assisted me, indeed it has endowed me, with a mandate to re-order my priorities. I don’t “sweat the small stuff” nearly as much as I used to!

Prayer shapes and guides my life more than it did pre-diagnosis, and I take uncommon joy in praying through and for an extensive and growing intercessory prayer list. How often we have been told to pray for others, and yet how often do we find ourselves actually doing that?

When I encounter people struggling with any issue at all, I find myself called to pray for them, and I realize that I want to let them know that I am doing so. When I am told by someone that I am being prayed for, it lifts my spirits as nothing else does. The mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves is inextricably linked to a life of daily prayer for others.

As a pastor, husband, parent, and friend, I have tried to be a note and letter writer over the years, and I find myself writing more notes than ever — letters of encouragement and acknowledgement to those who might need to know that someone is thinking about them and praying for them. I often send notes to those who have encouraged me and opened doors for me over the course of my life journey.

These notes often result in receiving responses and e-mails that can make the spirit soar!

Each of us has suffered or will suffer at some time in our lives. The Book of Job was a preview of what can happen to the most faithful and to the least faithful. Yet, the greatest gift we can offer to one another is encouragement — encouragement through spoken or written word, through deeds however small or gracious, through intercessory prayer and through the kindness of recognition: “I know this is a difficult time for you and I am holding you in daily prayer.”

God’s gift of life is truly amazing!

None of us knows how many days we will be granted. As you look in the mirror each and every day, take time to marvel that you have been created in the image of God. Count your blessings often.

Smile more and frown less! Tell those you love how much you love them each and every day. Share yourself abundantly with those who need encouragement, hope and care. Give thanks that with Christ all things are possible!

Keep that twinkle in your eye and help the world learn to laugh.