What if you knew you had a short time to live?

23 Dec

What would you do if you were told you had a couple of years left to live? What would you drop from your life and what would you refocus on?

These are questions I asked unemployed youths, retrenched adults or people who had reached an impasse in their lives. The echo of those questions has returned to me. It is no longer hypothetical for me.

As I confront the cancer and negotiate the medical acrobatics, I am fast discovering that one’s hope can never be in science, no matter how treatments have advanced in recent years. Being well intentioned but finite body mechanics, their counsel is often contradictory and always hedged to protect their backs from giving anyone false hope. My hope is in the Lord, my maker and Saviour, and I am seeking prayerfully and practically to push the boundaries on my prognosis.

Nevertheless, the question remains: What would YOU do if you knew you only had two years left to live? Or if you knew you had two years before economic disaster hit? (Warnings of the present financial morass have been sounding for many years. Who has heeded them?)

Often our lives get so cluttered with urgencies, administrative ‘necessities’ and trivia that we lose sight of what we are really called to do. To help answer the question, here are some matters to consider:

  1. How are your financial, legal and business affairs? Would an administrator or an executive have difficulty sorting things out?
  2. Have you honoured your covenant of companionship to your spouse? How are your relationships with family and friends? Are there unresolved conflicts that need to be rectified? Do you need to seek forgiveness? How do you want to be remembered? “Dad was always too busy”; “She was a good kid, but …”
  3. Will others have regrets? Did they look for something from you such as trust, security, love, companionship, communication, or performance of promises and not get it?
  4. What fears do you need to address? Sometimes we can avoid dealing with fears by drowning them out with activity and busyness. Even the way we pray can mask a fear of death. We are all dying; it is just the appointment time that varies. Are you afraid of failure? Of what people will think of you? Of pain? Of financial ruin? Of losing your home or family?
  5. What are the most important issues of life? How do you need to re-order your priorities? None of us is indispensable. Life will go on after we shuffle off this mortal coil. Many of the things we think are important will not be carried on by others. They will lapse. Work out now what is lasting and focus on that.
  6. Do you have a workable succession plan? Joseph had a vision that outlived him. He was convinced God would restore his father’s posterity in their own land and so he “gave commandment concerning his bones”
  7. How is your relationship with God? Perhaps this should be number one? Do you snatch moments here and there? Is your relationship actually a con job in that  you seek Him for what He can do for you? Or do you desire obedience so He can be glorified through you in any situation?
  8. Are you sure you will have the physical and mental ability to perform your primary objective if you postpone the really important issues while you clear the present clutter, or wait for the favourable year? What if you suddenly get sick, or your financial reserves haemorrhage drastically? Too many people end up with regrets. “If only I had done it when I could.” “I knew I should have …”

It dawned on me as I started weighing up these considerations that we are supposed to live in the light of these questions all the time! We must continually evaluate and re-evaluate our lives and priorities in the light of eternity. This is what Jesus meant when He told us to take up our cross daily and follow him.

I am not prepared to concede to cancer. It is not the way I would have chosen to exit this world. If my life was to end tomorrow I am not sure I could say with Paul, “I have finished the course”. I would feel my life had been cut short. I am also aware though, that many of the things that have consumed my energies are not as important as I imagined. Some have been my good ideas and not necessarily what God purposed for me. As God strips those away from me, I trust I will have the energy and the time to complete all God purposed for me (Psalm 57:2).

Whether you are 30 or 80, plan as if you have 100 years: live as if today could be your last.

Year follows year. Some things change, most things stay the same. We get lulled into a sense of predictability. And then suddenly …

… along came 2008!

Who would have imagined 2008 would have ended in international turmoil, both economically and politically. Riots, bloodshed, economic meltdowns, and predictions of doom and gloom.

James wrote in his epistle that no-one should boast about tomorrow. When we make plans we have an expected outcome in mind. Then God reminds us who is in control.

May the joy of the Incarnation and the sovereignty of Jesus Christ our King give you peace this Christmas season, and may He bless your work in 2009 as you increasingly implement His reign in all your affairs.


Posted by on 23 December, 2008 in Devotional


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