One life here
Perhaps it is because I've been on and off sick since the end of January, or perhaps it's because we visited the cemetery the same day we turned in the information to have our taxes done...death and taxes...yeah those two sure things. Or perhaps it is because I was looking for remedies to this virus and ran across a website that told me my resting pulse rate determined how long I would live. But one of these things got me thinking - and that tends to end in a lengthy email or blog post or journal entry. (So please forgive me for the length of this!) Back to that website and the pulse rate. I was fairly "rested" at that moment, so I took my pulse and by their calculations discovered I might only have three years left to live. Woah!
Since I believe God determines how long I will live, I didn't give the website too much credence, except that I did check my pulse again a few days later and looked for a more reliable website and discovered I fall right in the normal range. So there's that.
I also figured it's not worth worrying over. I couldn't control the day I was born, nor did I have a say in that event and I certainly won't have a say in the end of all things. I'll skip over all of those "what ifs" about suicide or people who take unnecessary risks or other ways we can shorten our life except to say that yes, I think we can shorten God's time table like Solomon did, when he flat out disobeyed God's specific warning to him not to worship other gods. (He was about 56 when he died, which was young in comparison to his father.) You would think the wisest man in the world would have listened when God Almighty spoke to him three times! Boy how I would love to hear God's voice speak directly to me!
But I digress...
That whole three years to live possibility mixed with visiting my in-laws and my dad's graves this past week reminded me that we really aren't here for long. Not on this physical earth. My mother-in-law (who I dedicated Redeeming Grace to in part) has been gone 17 years. My father-in-law ten years. My dad five. That doesn't even count the grandma I grew up knowing the best who met Jesus when I was twenty-one. Yet time still ticks on and we forget the space those people held on the planet. We forget what their voice sounded like after a while. But if we're coherent enough, we don't forget their love or their faith or the way they treated us and we treated them.
I might not remember everything my dad and I did together, but I won't forget that he loved to take the kids and me (Randy was working) to McDonalds for lunch and prayed with me on my birthday each year. He loved my mom for more than 70 years and was married almost as long to her. He loved watching his family, just spending time with them. I have pictures of him holding my kids as babies and getting on the floor and playing with them, or sitting in the chair watching them play. That is a precious memory I won't easily forget.
And it got me thinking...what would I do differently if I really did know I only had three years left on earth? What if it was three days? Or thirty years? Do you ever wish we knew? I mean sometimes it's tempting to want to know. We might spend our money differently. We might travel more often. We might not care about the petty things.
But of course, we don't know and if truth were told, we probably don't want to know. The mystique of not knowing keeps us getting up each day, looking forward to it with purpose. Yet how would you use the next year, two, three, ten, if you knew that's all you had left?
I'm not trying to be morbid. It's more like - what's important to you? Do you have a bucket list? Do people or things matter most if you were faced with that very real possibility of our mortality? It's not like the movies where we can get shot and come back to life in the next scene. We aren't superman or wonder woman.
We will live forever somewhere, but it won't be this current as-it-is earth. I am assuming if you read enough of my blog posts that you already know that I believe in heaven and hell and truth and life and that there is a way to be transformed and know the One who determines the future. But that's not what this post is about.
I'm thinking earthly for a moment. And just wondering if you've ever thought of your own life in that framework? I lost a baby before he/she was born, had a neighbor boy die on our front lawn when he was twelve, knew two friends in high school who died in their twenties, had a cousin lose a teenage daughter in a car accident, knew a family who lost six members at once to a boating accident and more than one friend become widowed way too young. So I know that death is no respecter of age. Jesus considered it the enemy.
And He came to defeat it, which He did.
But until He completely shuts it down, we still live in a fallen world and while we scramble to find the fountain of youth, do we stop and think about...what if? How long, Lord? What would He have you do with your one life here?
If I really did have three years left on this earth, that would be a pretty freaky thought. The other day when I coughed so hard my chest hurt, I thought about this again. What would I do?
Well...I would probably keep doing what I'm doing, except I'd try to see my family more. I would try to mend any broken fences, if I could. I would travel to some of those bucket-list places. But mostly? I would just want to love and be loved. I would hope that I would share Jesus with everyone I knew - like my dad did. He exuded Jesus even in the nursing home, until he couldn't speak anymore. I hope I never end up in a nursing home, but I do hope I exude the love of Jesus until that final breath.
How about you? I know I've probably made this more spiritual than it started out to be, but by now, my readers know that I tend to end up there because that's who I am. I guess I wrote this more for me than anyone else - preaching to myself, as it were.
I do hope that perhaps something in this "trying not to be morbid" post causes all of us to think about our lives, how we're spending them, what we'll have in the end. Do I really care if I died with a boatload of money? (I don't have a lot of money, nor a boat, but just sayin'.) We can't take anything with us except the people we loved to Jesus, and we don't get to pick when our future ends. We do get to pick how we spend our one life here.
I hope we choose to live it with love, forgiveness, and the grace of God, because that's how we've been treated by Jesus. That's my bucket list, even if I live to be one hundred.
In the meantime, I wouldn't mind getting rid of this never-ending virus, and I think cemeteries and taxes should probably not be visited on the same day!
And if you've read this far - thank you!