Deathbed Priorities

Last Holiday | Paramount Pictures (2006)

I never understood those movies about a person who suddenly discovers they only have a year to live.  And they make a list of all the things they want to do, like take an African safari, or a dream vacation at a luxury European resort, drive a race car faster than they’ve ever gone, date a supermodel — trying to cram a lifetime of fun in the short time remaining.  Like that Tim McGraw song, “Live like you were dying”, where he went sky-diving, Rocky Mountain climbing, and went 2.7 seconds on bull named Fumanchu (although the rest of the lyrics have some redeeming qualities). To my mind, they all missed the target.  When you’re facing the next life, what do you care if you climbed Mt Everest?

Yesterday, my boss tells me he’s leading the company in the number of hours worked this month.  Of course he’s got a lot more responsibilities than I do, got a lot more invested and at stake in the company’s success.  In our conversation I throw out that old cliché about people on their deathbeds never look back wishing they’d worked more hours.  You have to balance work out with the rest of your life, find your priorities.  And that comment got me thinking about how I should be living my own life.  What are my “deathbed priorities”?

When I face God at the Judgment Seat, I want him to say that I’d completed the tasks he laid out for me.  I want to hear that “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  And that means I’d want to have cultivated a lot closer relationship with him now, here on earth, than I have.  I’d want to have listened more to those subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit to avoid those little traps I fall so easily into, to not say that one poisonous word of less-than-charitable gossip, to have said no to that second huge helping at the buffet, or to not have been so quick to say no to someone who could really have used my help at that inconvenient moment.

On the more human level, I’d want to have listened more to the ones I love.  I’d want to have been more interested, and expressed more love, spent more time with them, and less watching TV.  I’d want to have been more helpful to others instead of being too busy.  A little less focused on my needs, my goals, and been a little more self-sacrificing. I’d give up that grudge and forgive more quickly, more easily.  “Whoever wants to find his life must first lose it.”

I admit: I suck at this.  I’m self-absorbed much of the time, insensitive (and over-sensitive), and, okay I’ll say it, most times just plain lazy.

But for the sake of leading a worthwhile life, I want to focus more on some of those things I’d do if I had one month to live.  I’m going to give God a few more minutes a day of dedicated one-on-one time.  I’m going to pay more attention to my friends, listen more and be interested in their lives, their goals, and let them know they’re important to me.  Love God, love others.  One little bit at a time.

Just thought I’d put that out for consideration …

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)