Tuesday, April 22, 2008

And On The Seventh Day, It Ended! Part 2

Philippians 4: 4-5 (MSG) Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! 

The question was, “What would I do if I had thirty days to live?” As discussed in part one, we operate on a thirty-day schedule. So, to make this question as close to a reality as possible, I am asking, “What would I do if I had seven days to live?” Asking this has stirred great emotion in me and caused me to think deeply about every moment of the seven days.

My life is about relationships. The question is, how do I end those? How do I spend the hours on the phone and in person when there are only seven days? The people I care for the most and the relationships God has allowed me to have over the years would suddenly be ending.

Now on to the question. First, I would not travel. I would not go anywhere and stand in line. I would not drive to places which might cause me to get into a traffic jam. I would not sit in front of a speaker, wasting my time trying to get an order right at the drive-thru. I would focus on fostering and mending my relationships.

I hope my relationship with God would grow stronger in these seven days. To be honest, I am afraid I might be mad at God or feel cheated by Him. I would rest on the promise that God has gone and prepared a place for me in Heaven. I believe my emotions would be up and down. I get emotional just thinking about it. Seven days! I would be excited, thinking of seeing Jesus, God, Paul, Moses, David, Peter, and, of course, Esther. I believe my emotions of missing my family would be the strongest and the most demanding. I would want my family around me twenty-four hours a day. I wouldn’t sleep too much—only enough to get by.

One of my tasks would be to video myself and all my thoughts for years to come. I would write what God would have me to write on and leave a special word for my wonderful wife and the girls whom God has blessed me with.

When asking this question, another question came to mind. “Would God be enough during this event?”

I would want my family to know that God is enough during this time, because, at the end, I am going to see Him. I would want to be remembered as a person who loved God and knew God.

It reminds me of a dear friend’s dad passing last year. At the funeral, the preacher described James Rodgers with words like, happy, loving, respected, concerned about others, a righteous man, a giving man, a man who loved God and taught his children to love God, and a man who loved others and taught his children how to love others. I pray someone will speak these words about me one day.

Because I have seen so much death during my life, I noticed something about this family that was different. They had a peace that their dad was sitting right where God had promised. They understood that God is enough. That is the question here. In the midst of a loss, is God enough?

A couple of years ago, I made several promises to myself. I promised to give a word of encouragement to a person like it was my last word. I promised to kiss my daughters like it was my last kiss. I promised to tell my wife that I love her and kiss her every day before she left for work—like it was my last time. I promised to give a hug to a person like it was my last time to give a hug. I promised to touch someone’s life like it was the last time they would ever see or hear a word.

There is no promise of tomorrow. There is no promise of eyesight, hearing, smelling or even walking tomorrow. There is no promise that we will be able to go to a person and mend a relationship; life is too short for these petty fault-finding arguments. She made me mad. I don’t like the way they do that. I can’t believe he would do that. He’s such a selfish person. I don’t like him. I can’t stand her! These words just might go to the grave with you. Life is short, but our culture has decided we can do it tomorrow. I will go to church tomorrow. I will ask God for this tomorrow. I will mend that relationship tomorrow. I will. I will. I will. What happens if you can’t? What if tomorrow doesn’t come?

So, I would not spend my last days on some things you expected. I will not let death have influence on my story of life. Death has only one goal for me and that is to unite me with my maker, God! Others may not know where they will go when death occurs; that is sad, but none the less, a reality. You have had time to reconsider and stop relying on your own physical efforts to obtain a peaceful life and realize where you are going when you die. But maybe you haven’t made that decision yet.

We don’t put a great deal of thought into the subject of death, mostly because we think in terms of tomorrow. Will tomorrow get here? Who knows? But if it does, I will be ready to go another day, not in the grind, but in the joy of living. I will be thankful that God has given me another day to make a difference here on this earth, so I had better use it wisely.

Day seven! Giving God Glory and knowing God is enough! Loving on my family and grateful that they know God is enough!


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

And On The Seventh Day, It Ended! Part I

And On The Seventh Day, It Ended!

Psalm 39. 4-5

4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
      Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.
 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
      My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

The question was asked, “If you had thirty days to live, how would you live out those days?” The question has no variables, such as healing or wrong diagnosis. It is what it is.

I must say at this time and in the midst of researching this question, I have come to a conclusion. Thirty days is too long of a time span to ask an American what they would do if faced with this tragic situation. Just after one day of asking this question I have learned that Americans do everything by the month. Nothing is done out of sequence, we live by the month so to ask this question and keep it in some type of reality, I have to ask ‘If you had seven days left to live, how would you spend them?”

Now ask yourself that. It brings more urgency to the matter. It stirs up more emotions; it brings you closer to the reality. By the way, I have also learned that unless you have been very close or known someone who has been part of an event of this nature it is very hard if not impossible to get close to the reality of this question. I do believe that you can experience some of the emotions that would be overwhelming if this event were to occur in our lives.

I think for the next two stories, as I contemplate this question, I will tell you guys what I would do with my last days. As Pastor Glenn at Church Alive talked about this subject it is not to be morbid but to look at life a bit differently. This happens everyday in our society. I know some of you reading this may have gone through this with a loved one or even been told this yourself. My purpose is not to be insensitive to the people who have experienced this. The purpose for me as I heard the message was to take a good look at my life and ask “what am I doing and am I using every minute wisely?”

Our culture is futuristic; we all tend to live in tomorrow. Even in writing this one story, I told myself I would just start on it tomorrow. As I write now I am thinking, will I even make it to tomorrow? I feel like I will but based on the scripture above there is no promise. I also read that Jesus knew He had thirty days to live before going to the cross, while not knowing if that was accurate, I see the urgency He put in every word He spoke.

For those of you that have been reading my stories for the past three years realize that I have written on this subject, but in a different way. I was more focused on living in the moment, not letting anything we do get in the way of what God wants us to do.

I am sure you remember me saying as I was told by my great friend Kyle, who at the time was coaching me at my all time favorite activity, water skiing. He said, “George, you have a great passion for the sport but you just don’t have that passion behind the boat, you’re just not getting on it hard enough, you have to get into a mind set like it’s going to be your last time ever skiing, your last time in the water, your last pull behind the boat.”

Is that us, do we have a great passion for Jesus but just can’t get it done in our lives, we talk it, we know the Christian language, we know the word but we are not getting it done. We always want to wait till tomorrow. It almost seems that some of us are just faking it. You know what to do but you won’t do it. Have you ever thought about why you won’t do what God has called you to do? I hope these next few stories will help you find purpose and real meaning to life, living it as if you had just a few days left.

Kyle’s statement that day and in the days to come would change me forever. It’s funny how a few words like that work in your life. Every time I ski, I do it like it’s my last time. I took that statement and made it part of my life. I now think and do everything like it’s the last time. No promise of tomorrow. No promise that we will ever see or talk to that person again. Am I perfect at this, No! I fail more than I care to admit. It’s a mind set and you have to fight your old nature to make this work for you. Your mind will tell you that tomorrow will come but the reality is that it may not.

So today I set out to ask several of my greatest friends “what if you had thirty days to live, how would you live out those days?” As I stated before, thirty days was too long so I am now going to take some of their answers and include them here for us. I did rephrase the question for some of them and ask “what if you had just 7 days to live, how would you live them?” I am working on my statements for the next story, part two.

I believe there needs to be a statement made here that this is not just a question but a reality for many people in the world each day. I know there is no way to understand the complete reality of this tragic situation, nor do I attempt too. This is merely an exercise to get insight on how we should be living everyday. If we lived just seven days at a time, how would we live? The ideal of course is to live each day as it’s our last.

In writing this story I have become aware of every activity I am doing. Would I be watching this if I had seven days left, would I be eating this, would I be talking like this, would I be acting towards this person like this? I want you to understand the power of this mind set and the rule it can have over you. Not to mention the emotions that are moved when thinking like this.

This is what one of my friends wrote back when ask this question, she said, “I would not live my life much differently.... I guess having lost so many close people without warning and then the health scares I have had (especially last year) I really try to live each day and know each moment could be my last..... especially when I am saying bye to someone.... or dropping my son off at school, etc.... NOT in a spirit of fear (because what could be GREATER than getting to go HOME?) but with a knowledge that it's not in our hands - that each day is a gift..... So mostly the same, I'd probably pack my family up and hit the road for Yellowstone or somewhere cool like that - always wanted to see Alaska.…

Then she added, “I hope that you know that during those excursions of my last 30 days of course the hope is to be practicing my "Great Commission"... you know... going and telling... which I hope is what I do now too....I'm just not a preacher.... so saying that I'd go out and travel the world preaching the gospel would not be quite the honest response..... but just my regular hope to always "preach the gospel using words only when necessary". I just figured since you know me well enough you would know that that part of it is understood...

You know, the only real ambition/goal I'm aiming for is a "well done" at the end of it all.... Of course there are things I "want" along the way, but sure have no real NEED for them.... so I figure if I focus on getting the well done, He'll give me more than I wanted in the first place as He sees fit... which is what He's done consistently so far.

And one of my friends wrote back and said this, “in my final days. I suspect we would cook out, laugh, joke, tell stories, maybe go to a favorite restaurant, but mostly just be together. I would also have to have a big “going away party” with all my friends to say my goodbyes, but it would be fun – no tears, just good times!!! I also suspect I would do a lot of soul searching and spend time in prayer, wanting to make sure my family was prepared for my departure – I would want them to be comforted. I would also want to tie up some loose ends, make sure my dog had a good home after I’m gone, and give away things that were special to me. Would I rush off to get married? That’s an experience I hope to have before I die, but I would hate to leave him a widower – I think that would be selfish on my part.

And one of my friends wrote back and said “It's always interesting to think about knowing that you had 30 days - you'd show more love, you'd eat well (good steaks),  you'd visit somewhere cool, you’d "make things right", but I think I would have a much more repentant heart as well and I hope I would be a bolder witness.  It wouldn't necessarily be that much different, but the stakes are higher and the finality of 30 days left gives you permission to cut the unimportant and be bold. 

Another friend wrote back, here are his words “It has struck me that the only thing that has to be done is to make sure that I will be received into the Kingdom.  With this in mind, I better start making sure right now!!   Maybe this is your point?

These are just a few answers to an incredible question. One thing each person has in common is their desire to get close or closer to God during this time. Each of them has a desire to have an affect on people, either directly or indirectly. That by the way was the overwhelming response to my question. Moving the days from thirty to seven only increased the urgency of the response.

As stated before, there is no promise of tomorrow. I don’t even know if you will get to part two. So, what do we do? Do I stay up all night and keep writing until I’m finished? It depends on the desire that burns in me. If I think you really need the second part of this story I would.

It’s all about the desire to give the message, a message of hope while we are alive, a message of compassion while we are alive, a message of love while we are alive and the message of the Gospel, while we are alive.

What’s your desire? Are you living a transformed life? Who are you in Jesus Christ? “WHO IS JESUS TO YOU?” That’s especially important if this was your last day on this earth.

Thank you to my great friends for their honesty and their willingness to give the world the insight into their lives. They all are truly a blessing to me. Lord willing, you will get part two in which I promise to share my deepest emotions and you will have a transparent view of my thoughts.

George Beasley, The Invisible Soul Ministry

Still Running

Still Running I recently turn sixty-two. There is something about getting older that makes you think about your life. Some days, I wake up...