Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Changed Perspective

Have you ever thought about how your perspective might change if you were suddenly faced with your own mortality? Spend a few minutes considering that one.  Stage 4 cancer can really blow your mind.  Now I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, and I always leave room for the healing hand of God in my life, but realistically none of us is promised tomorrow.

I have always looked at life expectancy statistics and thought that I would live my life out to the ripe old age of 80-something or even more.  My mother is 95 and still going strong and I have had many relatives that lived to nearly 100, so I felt my odds were pretty good.  Sure, you hear of people who die at a young age -- a 10-year-old with leukemia, an 18-year-old in a shooting, a 30-year-old in a car accident, or even the thousands that die in random natural disasters, but you never expect anything will happen to YOU.  You are young and indestructible!

Here's what God has to say about our time on earth:
"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."  James 4:13-14
So we should always be mindful that the Lord could call us home at any time.  But if you suddenly thought that your life could be trimmed to only months or so, how would that change your priorities?  How would you choose to spend your time and resources?  How would this affect your thinking?  It has really made me stop and examine myself as well as observe others.  All the little things that consume our days, suddenly don't matter at all.

Someone told me that if they thought they might soon die, they would go out and buy all the stuff they'd ever wanted!  Really?  So to them, the accumulation of STUFF equals a fulfilled life.  Sadly, I think most of us are guilty of this kind of thinking, at least a little bit.  But I know that in the final mix it's not going to matter whether I had a designer purse, or what kind of car I drove, or even how big my flat-screen TV was (sorry, John!).  It's all just STUFF, and let's face it -- he who dies with the most toys ..... still leaves those toys behind!

I always liked the Tim McGraw song Live Like You Were Dying, so I looked up the lyrics and ran through his bucket list: Skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing, 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu (I have NO desire to try bull riding, but must admit that is the catchiest part of the lyrics!).  Lots of folks plan the trips and adventures they'd always wanted to do.  Hmmmmmm, is that what life is all about?  I have to admit, I am heavily tempted in that direction.  Not so much the daredevil zip-lining through a jungle, but I'd love to see beautiful, historical sites around the world, homelands of my ancestors, and see the Holy Land just once.  At this point, I'm not well enough to do any traveling, so I have to enjoy it vicariously through my sons and also travel shows safely viewed from my couch.

But what I have learned is that when you filter out all the "fluff" of our everyday lives -- whether my shoes match my bag, who has a degree from the fanciest school, who saw a celebrity at the market, etc., etc., -- NONE of it really matters except for what matters in eternity.  It all comes down to hearing the Lord say "Well done, good and faithful servant! " Matthew 25:23 when I stand before Him.  Jesus has bought my salvation -- I know that's a done deal and I don't have to worry about "earning it" -- not that I could anyway.  I only want to please Him with what I've done with the gifts He's given me.  Prioritize your life based on what matters in eternity and don't sweat the small stuff.

Steven Curtis Chapman put it so well in his song "Last Day on Earth." Hope you enjoy this version:
Last Day on Earth

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