Shortly before midnight, my phone rang. I answered, expecting to hear her cheerful, optimistic voice. Instead, her tone was shaky, almost robotic as she spilled the shocking events of her evening.
Her dad—one of our closest family friends, a pillar of faith in the community, a mentor to many, a man determined to help the marginalized—had just suffered two cardiac arrests.
They were racing to the hospital, hoping the first responders could get his heart beating. That same day I had said to him, “Have a great weekend. See you Monday.” Little did I know that in a few hours he’d be in an ICU ward.
Of all people, he was the LAST person I would’ve expected to endure a severe health-related compromise. Every day, he’d awake before dawn to haul bales of hay to care for horses he’d rescued.
He mentored young men using physical exercise as an avenue for connecting with them. He had restored an old ranch to use for equine therapy for kids with autism and behavioral health challenges.
His latest endeavor includes developing a safe place for women rescued from sex slavery to recover and rebuild their lives. He loves people with fierce loyalty, but, more than anything, he loves Jesus.
I sat in silence after hanging up. I had just seen him that morning. No, God. It’s not his time. Please don’t take him from us.
His energy has always been infectious. He’s a relentless, godly force determined to serve others and honor the Lord.
Life and Death
The medical team jolted his heart back into action. Tottering between life and death, the unstable heart rhythm was monitored by massive machines. For a week his body remained still and silent.
Passages in both the Old and New Testament tell us about life and death:
The LORD gives both life and death;
he brings some down and lifts others up. (1 Samuel 2:6)
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
Don’t brag about tomorrow,
since you don’t know what the day will bring. (Proverbs 27:1)
For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2)
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. (James 4:13–14)
Knowing those passages sometimes offers little comfort when someone we love lies in a hospital. As the hours of waiting pass ever so slowly, we feel thoroughly helpless, reliving moments we regret, wishing to reverse time and redo past wrongs.
Because the “the LORD gives both life and death” and assures us “life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone,” we must surrender to God’s sovereignty.
When confused by events God allows, He reminds us there are things we will never understand. See Job 37:15–16; Daniel 2:22; and Acts 1:7.
My friend isn’t out of the woods. The whole experience has renewed my commitment to live life fully. We often get so caught up in our busy schedules, we forget how temporary our lives really are.
I’ve made a list of what living life to the fullest might include.
- Be present. The past has PASSED. The future isn’t promised. The present is a gift.
- Apologize and forgive quickly when an offense occurs.
- Treat each moment or experience as if it’s your last.
- Say, “I love you” often, looking into the other person’s eyes. (“Love ya” doesn’t count.)
- Find something to celebrate each day—the scent of a flower or candle, the taste of delicious food, the beauty of nature or art, your ability to see, walk, talk, move, love.
- Embrace others fully and authentically.
- Find humor in something each day.
- Say, “Thank you.”
- Be kind to others, including yourself.
- Love people, not things.
- Whatever God calls you to do, do it with all your heart.
Let Me Hear from You
We don’t like to think about dying even though it will happen to ALL of us. By reframing the topic of death, opportunities abound. Take time to evaluate how you are living life.
Do you dread or disregard the present, or do you intentionally invest in each moment you’re given?
I encourage you to ponder the following questions; they will help you discover if you are living life fully or if you need to do some reframing. I hope to hear from you on how you make the most of each moment God gives you.
- Are you living today as if this was your last day?
- Think about your loved ones . . . would you have regrets if you never saw them again?
- Do you need to change how you treat others?
- What would you do differently if this was your last day?
- What’s keeping you from making the change?
- What would you add to the 11 suggestions listed above?
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