Episode 1. Is Your Life Going to Count?
Listen to the radio broadcast
Download audio file
Um – just quickly – when you get to the end of your life and look back – will yours be a life of impact? Will yours be a life that’s added something to other people’s lives … or … not …
Um – just quickly – when you get to the end of your life and look back – will yours be a life of impact? Will yours be a life that’s added something to other people’s lives … or … not so much. Well?
Each minute that slips by is one less minute that you and I have to live on this earth. In fact life slips by with each tick of the clock. How we spend this precious time has everything to do with the sort of life we will have ended up living when it all comes to an end. So how are you spending your time?
When we were young children most of us didn’t think too much about dying. We pretty much have this mindset that we’re going to live forever here on this earth. I mean just think back, when you were a child did you ever think about dying?
Of course some people do. I have a dear friend who grew up in a war zone and was chased by rebel fighters through a jungle as they tried to forcibly conscript him to take up arms at the age of eight and nine. So some people I guess do think about dying young or perhaps a child with the life threatening disease but most of us as children simply aren’t wired to think about dying.
And even as teenagers and young adults we pretty much think we’re bullet proof and we’re going to live forever. One of the reasons that males under twenty five have more car accidents than any other age demographic is because they think they’re invincible.
But as time slips by our own children come and then they go and before you know it the grey hair starts appearing and then what really surprised me was the body just doesn’t work quite as well as it used to. At first I was shocked, then I was annoyed and then this sense of my own mortality crept in.
At some point the stark reality that our life here on this earth isn’t infinite becomes real in our hearts and in our consciousness and that my friend is a sobering realisation. Perhaps you’re at that point, maybe you’re way beyond it or maybe not.
I have a dear friend Phyllis at our Church, she’s ninety-nine years old as we go to air and as sharp and as witty as she is she’s at the point in her heart and her mind where she’s actually ready to cross over to the other side.
So when you and I get to Phyllis’s stage in life, if not perhaps her age but at that point when we know that the end isn’t far off, how will we look back on our lives? Come on, how will you look back on your life? And just as importantly how will others look back on your life? A life well lived, a life full of impact, a life with purpose, a worthwhile life or maybe not so much.
I remember being confronted by those questions when I read a book in my mid thirties called, ‘The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People’ by Steven Covey; a business best seller. One of the habits, the second one in fact, is to begin with the end in mind. In other words, to set your life on a course that gets you to where you want to head.
He begins the chapter by taking you to a funeral, your funeral; as though you have a chance to listen to what other people will say about you when you’re gone. And the question he asks the reader, me as I was reading it is this, will the people say about you the sorts of things that you really like them to say or not?
And that right there is an incredibly confronting question because it speaks directly about the gap, small or large, between the sort of life you’d really like to be living and the one you’re actually living. Are you really living the sort of life that you’d like to be living? Is it having the results, the impact, the outcomes that you’d really like to be having or not?
Because if it’s not then the only way it’s going to change is if you change. The only way that your report card at the end of the day is going to be different is if the attitudes, the desires, the motivations and ultimately the things you say and do become different.
And with life slipping away with each tick of the clock my friend, do you really have time to waste? It was that very question that brought me to a complete turning point in my life at age thirty six because I decided there was a huge gap between what I wanted my life to add up to at the end of the day and what it was going to add up to if I kept heading in the same direction.
I was living my life, by and large, for me, me and me and that, as it turns out, is no way to get the results that I was looking for because the results I was looking for from people who would stand up at my funeral were about the positive impact I’d had on their life’s journey.
Some might call that a mid life crisis, I don’t know but at some point we each need to ask ourselves whether our lives are headed in the right direction. So without putting too finer a point on it can I ask you quietly and gently and respectfully, is your life headed in the right direction?
Jesus once told this story about a man, Luke chapter 12 beginning at verse 16:
The land of this rich man produced abundantly and he thought to himself, ‘what should I do for I have no place to store my crops?’ And then he said, ‘I’ll do this, I’ll pull down all my barns and build bigger ones and there I will store all my grain and my goods and I will say to my soul, soul you have ample goods laid up for many years, relax, eat, drink, be merry.
But God said to him, ‘you fool, for this very night your life is being demanded of you and the things that you’ve prepared whose will they become?’ So it is with anyone who stores up treasures for themselves but is not rich towards God.
That story had a big impact on my life because I was that guy. I thought it was all about what I could build and what I could have. With no doubt we’ve all heard that saying, “you can’t take it with you” to which I would rather stupidly respond, “well you know if I can’t take it with me I’m just not going.” Yeah what that’s an option.
At some moment in time we are all going. We are all going to breathe out last breath. My heart will stop one day, your heart will stop one day and within just a few short minutes every cell in our bodies will be dead. If I have the opportunity to look back on my life in the weeks and the days and hours leading up to that event I decided that I’d like to be able to look back on a life with contentment, with satisfaction.
Okay every life has it’s mistakes and it’s regrets, yours does and mine does, things we wish we could unwind, things we wish we could have done differently but the greatest tragedy of all would be to get to the end, look back on it all with way more regret than satisfaction. The greatest tragedy of all would be a wasted life.
So is your life headed in the right direction and if not what are you doing about it? There’s something that the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians in the New Testament that had a huge impact on my life. It was the thing that God used to start turning round my life. And just quietly it’s still turning around, it’s still a work in progress. None of us is there yet; at least I don’t feel that I am. Have a listen to these amazing words, Colossians chapter 3, verse 1 to 3:
So if you’ve been raised with Christ seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above not on the things that are on this earth for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ.
And then just a little bit further down in the same chapter verse 16:
Let the word of Christ dwell richly in you.
For me change didn’t happen, I mean real change, radical change, the sort of change that sets my life on the course that would give it the impact and the results that deep down I was secretly hoping for until my perspective changed. Once I stopped focusing on this life, what I could get out of it and lifted my gaze and set my mind on heavenly things that would last forever rather than the earthly things that satisfy me today but are as fleeting as the morning mist.
What I wanted changed, what I desired changed and then my life started heading in the right direction. Up until then I’d tried everything but the only thing that really worked was following Jesus Christ and setting my heart on Him.
If I died tonight would I be content with the life I’ve led? Well there are some things I’d still like to achieve but if the Lord God called my home tonight, if this is it, you know what, I’m content with the life that I’ve lived, can’t ask for much more than that can you?