Two of the most recent events that have headlined the news for the past two weeks are the disappearance of Flight MH370 and the massive mudslide near Oso, Washington. Both of them are events that have left uncertainty, grief, and frustration for many. And once again, we are reminded of how fleeting our days can be.
When catastrophic events such as this happen, we are often forced to take a look at our own mortality. A life that is here today can be snuffed out quickly. I know this to be true. When my husband came home from work on October 27, 2009, he followed his regular evening routine as he went to the basement to lift weights. He never came back up those stairs, and met Jesus as his soul took flight from this earthly home.
We may not be able to plan for the day and hour of our death, but we can plan for how we live our life. Here are five things I believe can help us live so that we do not focus on regrets at the end of our lives.
1. Focus on intimacy with God – In our ordinary, every day lives, sometimes we get so busy that we forget to spend time with the Lord. Time spent with God is never wasted. How can we know God intimately if we never open His Word, never speak to Him in prayer, and never practice spiritual disciplines? I speak from experience when I say it is easy to get distracted by life and forget to read my Bible, neglect to talk with God, and fail to grow in my faith. I have never heard anyone who has reached the end of their life say, “I regret the time I spent with God.”
2. Develop a servant’s heart – While growing up in the 60s and 70s, the resounding theme was “all about me.” There was an “if it feels good, do it” mentality that pervaded the culture during that time. In reality, however, people who live only for themselves are generally miserable, always seeking after the next thing to make them happy. While some “me time” is certainly important to a well balanced life, happiness and contentment can be found in servanthood .I see ordinary people every day who serve others in a multitude of ways. One of the things I love about many of today’s younger generation is their willingness to volunteer and serve.
3. Invest in relationships. Maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends is important. It takes work and sacrifice on occasion. But the payoffs are well worth the cost. It is far too easy to let relationships go as we get wrapped up in our busy lives. Studies show that one of the biggest regrets many men have at the end of their lives is not investing in more time with their families. Relationships can enhance and enrich our lives (and yes, even on occasion complicate them). Spending time with the people who are important in your life can bring rewards you never anticipated.
4. Pursue your passions. I believe that God has gifted each of us with something that we are uniquely qualified to do. If you are not sure what you are good at doing, ask your family and friends. They often see your gifts more clearly than you do. When we develop our gifts and become passionate about using them for His glory we find ourselves having fewer regrets. Your passion may be helping the homeless, teaching others about finances, being an encourager, or any other countless gift that God has given to you.
5. Quit being a bystander in life. I cannot tell you how many people just coast along in life, never really living. I have been one of those people on occasion. Determine that you are going to make your life count for something. Be a difference maker. We have choices in life and living life fully is a choice. Stop being a bystander and choose to be a participant.
I think that it is safe to say that all of us will experience regrets in this journey of life, but we can minimize them by focusing on these five areas.
“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. Psalm 39:4 (NLT)