What if 2016 was the last year you had on planet earth? Suppose your doctor after studying test results looks at you and says, “I’m sorry, but based on what we’ve discovered you have only a year or less to live.” No doubt this revelation would change the way you approach this life. Trust me, as a hospice chaplain and minister for over 21 years this kind of news is always life changing. I’ve observed countless folks who just discovered this kind of news and it’s always life changing.
I love the song “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw. However, if I knew death was near I would not be making plans to go sky dying, rocky mountain climbing, nor would I care about riding some bull. Forgive me if any of those things are at the top of your bucket list. Here are some things that would probably top the list for each of us if we thought this year was our last.
#1 I would THANK GOD FOR EACH DAY.
Usually when I ask a person who knows they are dying, “How are they doing?” There reply is, “I’m just thankful God woke me up!” You see, they are truly thankful for each breath and another day on planet earth.
(Psalm 118:24) “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.:
#2 I would PREPARE TO TRANSITION.
I still can’t believe the words of a 103 year old man who lives in an area Nursing Home. I asked him, “What do you think happens when you die? He replied, “Hadn’t even thought about it.”
I said, “Sir, I think once a person reaches a hundred it’s about time to start thinking about life after death…don’t you think?”
“I won’t care, I’ll be dead” he replied, to which I responded, “But, sir you will care…because we are each made to live eternally. The only question that remains is where we will live eternally. Heaven or Hell.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11) “…God has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
(Hebrews 9:27) people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
#3 I would MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT.
I’ll never forget one of my sickest hospice patients looking me square in the eyes and saying, “Pastor, I’m more blessed than you.” I replied, “How is that sir?” He said, “Because I know how to live like I’m dying. I seek to make the most of every moment.”
(Ephesians 5:16-17) making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
#4 I would VALUE RELATIONSHIPS.
Never heard any man or woman tell me this at the end of their life, “I spent way too much time with my friends and family.” Or,“I wish I would have spent less time with my family and friends.” It’s always “I wish I would have spent more time with those I love.”
(1 John 4:7-8) “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…”
#5 I would SEEK GOD’S WILL WHOLEHEARTEDLY.
Do you know what I think is one of the greatest problems with professing Christians and therefore the church today? Very few are living with a true sense of urgency….Very few are wholeheartedly seeking God’s will.
(James 4:13-17) 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
#6 I would LIVE WITH ETERNITY IN MIND.
If you’re like most, you got a lot of stuff this Christmas. Two days after Christmas, I visited with a man who only has weeks to live and I asked him if he had a good Christmas.He said, “Yes, I think so. I got a few things, but I haven’t gotten around to opening any of them.” Over on the bed next to him was a stack of “Things” wrapped in boxes and gift wrap. Those things really didn’t have a lot of value to this man at this time in his life.”
(Matthew 6:19-20) 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
#7 I would WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
I have a patient who just drew his last breath this past weekend. I find it amazing that every time he woke up the last week of his life he spoke one recurring theme. He says, “Pastor, I just want to touch one more life. I just want to make a difference in one more life.”
(Matthew 5:16) “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
My friends we only get one dash between when we are born and when we will die. Either we live in such a way that matters or our dash on this earth will be wasted. My prayer is that this article will inspire you to live this year as if it were your last. You don’t need a doctor or a preacher to tell you that you need to live each day as if you’re dying. Now, go make 2016 the best year of your life!
*If you don’t have a church home please join us @ Refuge Church. On January 3rd, we’ll be starting a message series entitled “2016 Difference Makers.” Worship with us Sundays 9:15 or 11 am. Located at 203 Eddie Chasteen Drive, Walterboro. Come as you are, Never leave the same.