I typically spend between 10-15 hours making hospital visits and I am usually either speaking for or attending at least 1-2 funerals every week as a chaplain. I have told people this before, and they almost always immediately express sympathy for having to be around sickness and death so much. But these experiences have totally transformed the way I view my life.
I could tell you stories of being in emergency rooms as parents hear news about their child or loved ones. Stories of healthy men and women who find out they have cancer or other life-threatening diseases. Stories that you and I hope and pray are never our own – but for some of us, they are.
These experiences have made me appreciate and understand the gift of today. I don’t know when my day will come. There is no reason why it won’t be today. Tomorrow was never guaranteed.
It could have easily been on my way to work this morning, when the car behind me (who was apparently late for the most important meeting in history...) tried to pass me and ran me off the road onto the shoulder to avoid oncoming traffic. That very easily could have been it for me. This could have been my day. I used to have this unconscious belief that the tragedies I read or heard about will never happen to me. Yet the truth is, my days are numbered too.
I could respond to this truth with fear. I have chosen to engage life instead! I want to live every day with the reality that it could very well be my last.
This means that I find forgiveness for those who have hurt or betrayed me in the past – and vice versa. It means that where there are dissensions – I make every effort on my part to find peace with that person. With an attitude like this, I go to bed every night with the comfort of knowing that if today were to be my last day, and I did not wake from my sleep the next morning, I could be at peace with what I left behind.
For me, if I were to wake up that next morning, what a blessing a new day becomes! Each day is no longer a burden, but they become opportunities. There are countless things we could live for that brings us enjoyment and momentary happiness. I want to live a life that has eternal significance…don’t you? That means investing our time and resources into things that God truly cares about. It means becoming passionate about the things that really matter.
Some of you have journeyed with loved one’s as they were given a few months or years to live. When you find out that life is coming to an end, it can dramatically change your perspective on things that matter - and things that don't. I have decided that I’m not going to wait for some doctor to give me a timeline like this before I truly start living my life to the fullest.
- What if you were told that you had ____ months to live? How would you live your today(s) differently?
- What will it take for you see each day as a blessing?
“My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” ~ Psalm 27:8 (NLT)