If Only

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Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ Luke 12:18-21

The events of 9/11/2001 will forever be etched in the memories of those who were alive at the time fifteen years ago. I watched a documentary on the 15th anniversary of this event on the History Channel entitled 102 Minutes that Changed America.  It was chilling because the documentary was pieced together from actual photography and videos taken by non-professionals and clips of actual voice mails and calls from people trapped on the upper floors of the World Trade Center.  It was riveting. The people had no way to escape and they knew it.  Each of them reached out to their loved ones by cellphone.   Every one of the voicemails had the phrase “love” in it, either  addressed to the recipient or to be communicated to other family members. They were saying goodbyes – doing things that they might have a chance to do.  As the scripture notes, Jesus tells the rich man that you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  Use it wisely for the kingdom, not for yourself.

You often hear stories of people who are ill. They go from doctor to specialist, until eventually, someone finally determines that they have a terminal condition and they are told they have a short time to live. What are their thoughts?  Well, the normal give and take of our daily routine gives way to all out lazer focus on what should you do in the little time you have left.  All of a sudden your values change. Things that were important are immediately irrelevant.  It could be you; it could be me.

Material possessions no longer matter.  A vacation home is irrelevant.  All at once, your life comes crashing down on you with time running out.  What would you do?  What would you think was important if it happened to you?  Well, I’ve thought about that for some time, and the one thing I wouldn’t want to say is something like “if only” I had done something for someone, or said something like “I love you” to someone I care about.  All of a sudden, relationships trump everything else that used to be important.  I wouldn’t want to feel guilty – a guilt caused by not having said what I wanted to my wife, my children and my grandchildren.  Telling them that I love them matters more than anything else I could imagine.  This past weekend, I was able to see all of my children, their spouses, and all but one of my 9 grandchildren, and each of them know that I love them.  It was said sometimes with a hug, or even spoken.

My father died suddenly about twenty-five years ago. Totally unexpected. He was in the hospital for minor surgery – a hernia operation – and spent the night at the hospital. While checking out, something went terribly, terribly wrong and a blood clot killed him while he was still in the hospital. At his funeral, I came up with my version of “if only”, except I called it “no regrets.”  The concept is to live life in such a way that if we are suddenly taken away, we won’t leave anything unfinished behind with those who we love and care about.  I am glad I visited my father in the hospital the night before he died, because the last thing I said to him when we left was “I love you!”  Since that time some 25 years ago, I have tried to live my life with “no regrets.”  I think about my legacy to others.  You may only get one chance to invest in others lives. Why not start today?

My challenge is for you to think about your life, your friends, your family or your relationship to God.  What is it that you would change so that if you had a brief time left, what would you say or do differently?   Who would you reach out to?  Whose life can you invest in by developing a mentoring relationship. We only get one chance at life – make the most of it and start expressing your feelings for those you love today.  Don’t put yourself in a position to think “if only” and start living life with no regrets.

Bill Mann

PICTURE.  The picture above is of the remaining wall from the destruction of the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001.  It is a reminder that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  The people who went to work on that day did not expect their day to end as being the object of a terrorist attack.

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WORSHIP:    Listen to Paul Balochi sing the song Today is the Day.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnelJ_PsHuQ

 

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