“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” – Pope Paul VI
What if I were to tell you that you were going to die? I know, morbid thought, right? How do you suppose you might live differently? I believe for some of us we have wake up calls in our lives that cause us or push us to move; to change our priorities. We have all heard of someone or read about someone who has been given a timeline for their life from a doctor; for example, “you have one to three years to live”. Almost always those people will begin doing the things that they’ve always wanted to do but never did. Some begin to travel and take exotic trips. Some go skydiving or parasailing. They begin telling family members all those things they wished they had told them before. The most ironic thing begins to happen. They’ve been told they are dying, yet, for the first time in their lives they feel more alive than ever before. If you’ve never heard of Professor Randy Pausch, I encourage you to watch his now famous video titled, ‘The Last lecture’. Filled with wisdom from someone who knew he was dying, he made a lecture to leave for his children and presented it to a packed auditorium.
For these people who have been given a time line, life’s priorities begin to change. Their perspective on the meaning of life begins to change. They begin to realize how short their time is with their loved ones. All of those years of trying to change their husbands into being someone they’re not, those battles don’t seem so important anymore. All of those arguments with their children about leaving their shoes in the doorway or their toys on the living room floor didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. All of those times they spent cleaning instead of meeting up with their girlfriends all in the name of the perfect home seemed so insignificant. They stop themselves when their child asks them to play and they’re about to say, “Maybe later, mommy’s busy”, and realize later is now. Because later might never come.
You see, when you know you’re dying, the true reality of time sets in. The clock seems to tick louder and louder. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. John Mayer also wrote a song for the movie, “The Bucket List” entitled, Say What You Need To Say. The song goes along with the movie about two men dying of cancer, and in the song he encourages us to have no fear and say what you need to say and say it now.
What if we, as Christians, could live our lives like we were dying? I think about my mom. I wonder if the doctors had said when she was 35 (my age now) that she would only have 10 years left here on this earth. Choose wisely how you will live it. I wonder if she had known if she would have tried to reconcile relationships, seek out forgiveness and peace in her life. Would she have tried to sober up and enjoy the last days here on this earth? I don’t know. I only know what I have been given. And it is a gift. And it is today. You see we are given no promises of tomorrow.
Now, my life isn’t perfect. I, like you, have pressures and stresses and concerns for the future. But I try to live my life with no regrets. Again, not perfect. This is a daily walk. Daily, asking God to help me live ‘this day’ for His glory. I have to remind myself, “Live in the present”. “Live and feel this moment”: because I will never get this moment back. When it’s gone, it’s gone. I have to remind myself daily to pat my child on the back, rub their little heads, and look them in the eye to let them know they have all of me. Be their cheerleaders! Encourage my husband today. If I were gone tomorrow, I would want their hearts to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were loved. Let your friends know how very special they are to you. Ask God to give you an awe and a reverence for His people, because whether they know it or not, they are made in the image of God almighty.
Here are some practical ideas on how to live in the here and now (priorities).
- Personal: Seek out adventure in your life. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut. I’m not saying to sign up for skydiving today. Pray that God would give you a creative and spontaneous spirit.
- Kids: Every now and then you just need to go somewhere different, not expensive, just different; like drives, hikes, parks, ice cream, library. They just want to be with you.
- Husband: It is so important to have date nights. I cannot stress this enough! Not only does this create security in your children, but it also forces you to open up and communicate. It’s a good thing!
- Friends: No matter how busy you get, plan some get togethers or coffee dates with your girlfriends. There is nothing more precious than feeling like you could share anything with someone who understands you and who won’t judge you.
- God: The final and most important thing that I want to share on this topic of living like you were dying is in relation to your own personal relationship with God. On that day, when we meet our Maker, will we feel like we are being introduced for the first time? Or will we feel like we are embracing someone so familiar? I challenge you to seek Him and love Him like there was no tomorrow. Some of us are afraid of what that might look like. We approach God as if we were in the principal’s office. He is passionate about you. Gods Word tells us to seek Him and seek Him with ALL of our hearts and He will be found by us. What an awesome promise!
I encourage you to live a life with eternity in mind. James 4:14, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away.” Also, in Psalm 39:4, “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” Life is but a vapor. I love this saying, “It’s only a minute, but eternity’s in it. Make your vapor count!”
If God has laid something on your heart, and He has opened a door but fear is guarding the door, bust the door down! Do not let fear of the unknown guide your decisions.
Reprioritize your life. Do it now. Seize the day. Live with no regrets. Redeem the time.
I would like to close by sharing a little about a man who did indeed live a short life. His name is William Borden. Throughout the history of missions, many missionaries have lived very short lives. William Borden is one of them. In fact he died before he even reached the mission field. William was the heir to the Borden Dairy estate. He was a millionaire before he graduated from high school. But he was willing to let everything go to follow God’s call to the mission field. He wrote in his journal, “Say no to self and yes to Jesus every time.” The Lord called him to reach out to the Kansu people in China. Since the Kansu people were Muslim, William stopped in Egypt to study Arabic before traveling on to China. However, while in Egypt he contracted spinal meningitis and within a month he died at age 25. Prior to his death, William had written these six words in the back of his Bible: No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets. Wow! Now this was a man who seemed to have a good handle on the shortness of life and the need to invest all he had in the things of Christ. Eternal perspective.
Soon this life as we know it shall pass. Only what’s done for Jesus will last.