Is it possible?
...to live with no regret
"Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards."1 Such a profound sentiment with so few words; we really 'get it' when we look back, but sometimes living in the not-yet known leaves us uncertain.
In the last few days, I have had two conversations with friends regarding their parents and end-of-life decisions. These dialogues are so difficult: when the privileges of independence, like maintaining a home or driving a vehicle, should be no more . . . and yet what of the worried, over-burdened, care-taking children? No easy answers. I think of myself as fiercely independent - and let's just say, when the time comes, I am certain my four children will draw straws about who the unlucky one is to take the keys out of my hands, perhaps tell me that maybe I'm not exactly thinking straight. Hmmm.
Do you ever stop and think what your last days will be like? Will you be filled with joy knowing you are closer to Heaven, soon to see your Creator and God? Will you have a sense of contentment for having lived a full, satisfying life, or will you be filled with regrets? Reminds me of Sinatra, "And now, the end is near and so I face the final curtain..." and "Regrets, I've had a few, but then again too few to mention..." May our regrets be too few to mention. Is that possible-too few to mention?
What if we determined to live each day to please God ... would it be possible? The past is history, and in many respects, our tomorrows are a mystery. So really, we only have today. Today is a gift from God, and bearing that in mind, let's purpose to be present and live well.
Living well sure seems it will influence dying well. A life that pleases God takes into account being intentional and disciplined in three areas. For instance, ~>whether or not I am of somewhat sound body and mind in my last days may hinge in part in how I take care of the body God has given me-again, on a daily basis, starting today. [Can't do anything about the past now, right?] Paul said, "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."2 My physical well-being into the future requires personal discipline-good nutrition, exercise, quality sleep and minimizing stress.
We must never lose sight of the fact that we have been created in the image of God3, and because as Paul said, 'our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit4, we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, to 'honor God with our bodies'. How ya doing taking care of your temple, Friend? Exercising it, feeding it well, resting? It is never too late to take better care of yourself.
~>And then I think, who will be near me in those later days of my life, both physically present or in the sweetest of memories? Those who I have valued and loved well, my closest relationships. Therefore, rifts must be mended, and short accounts kept, no bitterness allowed to take root. Paul said it so clearly, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."5 Maybe some of us have some phone calls to make. [Of course, do not miss the 'if it is possible' . . . in Paul's admonition. Sad as it is, not all family members are able to be close; it is just not the same priority for everyone. When that is so, we must carry our loved one to God, but be open for him to come back around if/when he is ready to love and be loved. And that means forgiving, not carrying a scorecard of all the ways he has hurt you, ready to pull out of your back pocket.]
~>Most importantly, where will be my final home? When I used to go to my parents' big old house in Alameda, I walked through the back kitchen door; where no one was surprised to see me because I belonged there-it was home. Mom and Dad expected me to come bounding up the back stairs, and they knew the sound of my voice because I was more than familiar. When I see Jesus, I want him to know my voice too. I don't want to be filled with excuses about why I hadn't talked to him in a while, why I just couldn't get around to doing the things that please and honor him. I want Jesus to know me and be expecting me.
Physically, relationally and spiritually, you and I can discipline ourselves with the daily choices to honor God in our bodies, loving others and loving him. And then ... well, we probably will still have some regrets, buts like Sinatra, maybe they'll be too few to mention because we did it His Way. Something to think about anyhow.
1 - Soren Kierkegaard, 19thcentury philosopher and theologian, brilliant man.
2 - 1 Corinthians 9.24-27, NLT
3 - Genesis 1.27
4 - 1 Corinthians 6.19-20
5 - Romans 12.18