Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“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 (NLT)
“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.”
1 Peter 4: 7-8 (The Message)
My recent follow-up visit to the doctor carried a bit of a surprise. The surgery in February to remove the baseball-size cyst had all the post-op-signals pointing to success. It was hoped that with some of the cyst being removed, without having to cut into any organs it was laying against, the balance of the cyst would dissolve over time.
However the latest CT scan showed that the cyst had re-grown in place. Makes you feel special knowing that the odds of that happening are extraordinarily rare. However there it was, still with no malignancy, no discomfort—but just another “baseball” for my collection. My doctor, a great guy and wonderful surgeon, couldn’t put his professionally trained finger on any reason to try to remove it again just now—so we’ll just wait and check it again at the end of the year.
I remember, though, the overarching peace I felt when we first learned it was there months earlier, knowing God was in control, and that all is well with Him in charge. There were only a few brief moments when I allowed my thoughts to drift toward the possibility of not seeing my granddaughters grow up if it turned out to be more serious.
Yet as I sat there with the doctor during my follow-up visit a few weeks ago, listening to his calm and measured words, it hit me very clearly—I was dying.
I may have six months to live, or less. I may have a year or a bit more. I may have many years more; but then, as the scriptures above remind us, none of us are promised tomorrow.
Whatever time is left in this part of my life on earth, I now know that it’s not forever. My Bride, Lynda, and I have both thought about that at times, especially in the forty-seventh year of our marriage. I suspect some of you—if you’re really honest with yourselves—have had your thoughts occasionally drift there.
So here’s what I suggest you and I do from here on out—live each day as if it may be our last. Make decisions, schedule your time with those most important of people we should be with, and do those things we’re called to do and have been putting off doing.
In the words of a song by country and western singer, Tim McGraw, pray that in the time you and I have left on this earth, we would—“Live like I am dying.” They are words he wrote and sang to his dad. His dad was major league baseball pitcher Tug McGraw, and Tim never really got to know him until very late in life when they discovered that his dad had less than a year to live.
It was a poignant moment for me during that follow-up visit to the doctor a few weeks ago—to realize that I’m dying. But the truth is that I am dying. I always have been. We all are.
I have a long-time friend, younger than me, who has just entered hospice care. We have no assurances as to when we will take that last breath here on earth. An hour from now, sometime later today or tonight, tomorrow, sometime long after that—many years perhaps. As for me, well again, I may have six months to live, or less; perhaps a year, or maybe many, many more. I have no medical opinion or condition indicating that there is a time certain to worry about—as a matter of fact, I’m in good health—but I also have no guarantee of time, other than now.
I just don’t know.
And you don’t know either.
But what we do know is that we don’t have forever in this life, and the moments which we have, and we too often let pass us by, often won’t circle back around for a second chance. Despite our good intentions, our best efforts, and varied accomplishments to this point, there are still things we’ve always wanted to do, and many more we should have done long ago—still waiting to be done.
There are people I should have forgiven long ago, who remain unforgiven. There are people from whom I should seek forgiveness, still waiting to be asked. Lives I should love and touch which are still unloved and untouched. There are adventures to begin, mountains to climb, oceans to cross, books to read and write, careers to strike out on, ministries to expand for the good of others and His glory, family and friends to cherish—still not done and still looming before me in the days I have left before I step into eternity.
I suspect there are some of you reading this who would say you wouldn’t do anything differently if you knew a time certain when your life on earth would end.
Because I suspect, even you would notice in those last days that your food tasted better, the breezes seemed cooler and softer, the woman you love seems more beautiful and precious, your husband is much better and more patient than you remember, the children you raised and those you’ve adopted as in-laws, don’t disappoint or mess up decisions near as much as they used to. And of course, as you already knew, your grandchildren really do have halos around their precious heads; and real friends remain friends, often in spite of us.
So, how about that beginning today, you and I promise that we will live each day like we don’t have tomorrow, or as Tim McGraw said, we will—“Live like I am dying.”
Have a great time—living the rest of your life—starting today.
It will be a blessing all around—for you and to others!
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2014. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.