What If This Was Your Last Month To Live?

What If This Was Your Last Month To Live?

Editor’s Note: I originally penned these words in early November in preparation for today’s scheduled post. When I crafted this message, I wrote about a concept inspired by Robert D. Smith. But in the past week, this concept has flooded my consciousness in a deeply personal way—and thus I’ve updated my words. You see…my son, Blake, lives in Paris. We’ve spent lots of time this past week on FaceTime sorting through complex emotions. What a painful reminder that none of us knows what day might be our last.

I admire people who live with great intention—individuals whose focus and energy are clearly aligned to a deep sense of purpose. Perhaps you’ve encountered someone in your life whose life exemplifies heartfelt commitment to a mission or ministry.

Biking with Skip

2015 Biking the Cannon River Trail

On a bike ride earlier this month (you can’t beat 70 degrees in November in Minneapolis!), I listened to a podcast with Ken Davis and Robert D. Smith. For the past three decades, Smith has been the business manager for famed speaker Andy Andrews. Smith’s energy, conviction and honesty about his professional journey were inspiring. Most importantly, it challenged me. How am I using my time?

Robert D. Smith is also the author of 20,000 Days and Counting. During the podcast interview, Smith said, “Most people measure their lives in years. But what if our thought process changed?”

What if you measured your life in days? What a powerful concept.

Perhaps you’ve heard this principle: “Live each day as if it were your last.” Sounds inspiring, but a bit difficult to actually put into practice day after day… right?

Thinking in terms of “20,000 days and counting” or “living as if each day were your last” certainly raises the element of urgency. But the concept still seems a bit too hard to grasp. That got me to thinking very specifically about this past month in my own life.

What if my early November ride was my last bike ride—and I knew it?

I would have relished the colors of the fall leaves more intently instead of whizzing by. I would have stopped at a favorite spot, sat on the bench, and breathed in the crisp fall air. I would have spoken words of gratitude to the Creator instead of mentality creating my to-do list.

What if I knew last night’s dinner was my last conversation with my husband?

I would have skipped the tense conversation I initiated about a little disagreement we’d had, and instead focused on all that is good between us. We have so much good for which to be grateful. I would have looked deep into his eyes and whispered “You are cherished.”

What if I knew a recent phone call with my son, Alex, was my last?

I would have spent more time sharing words of encouragement, and less time on the administrative things we needed to cover. I would have said “I’m so proud of you,” and “I love you,” instead of “gotta run, we’ll talk more later.”

Our opportunities are constrained by the boundary of limited time.

My opportunities…and your opportunities…to influence, inspire, love, forgive, encourage, grow in character and serve others are constrained by the common boundary we all share—24 hours in a day and only so many days (20,000 and counting) on this earth.

Confronting your mortality, at first blush, can be scary. Yet I’ve come to learn it is also tremendously liberating. When you acknowledge the boundary of human life, albeit without knowing when you will reach the end of this earthly frontier, you gain valuable perspective.

What if you knew this was your last month to live?

If I knew my days were numbered, I would:

  1. Love generously. I would make sure I repeatedly expressed my love and gratitude to those I hold dear.
  2. Forgive unreservedly. I would seek and offer forgiveness so I would not leave unhealed wounds of the heart.
  3. Communicate clearly. I would make sure my care wishes were clearly understood so no one would be left to guess, argue or regret decisions made on my behalf if I could not speak for myself.
  4. Organize responsibly. I would also make sure I had all my administrative affairs in order so as not to burden those I’d leave behind.
  5. Celebrate liberally. I would invest my days and hours in celebrating the relationships, accomplishments, joys, blessings and memories of my life with great abandon.

I invite you to consider a handful of sentences from your past 24 hours that begin with “If this was my last…” Would you approach the next 24 hours differently?

And if you knew you had One Month to Live, what would you do differently?

None of us knows… none of the victims in Paris had any inkling. The week before this horrific event, no one suddenly thought, “I should put my affairs in order—I should write my healthcare directive.”

I’m determined to live ready. I’m determined to live with greater appreciation for each day. And when my time comes, by God’s grace, I will have a peaceful journey from here to eternity.

QUESTION: How have the Paris attacks impacted your sense of your mortality? Will you please leave a comment below or join the conversation by sharing this post via social media with your comment using #endoflife?

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