What Is Your Life? x

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. —James 4:14 NIV

Although her daughter told me she would call, I was not prepared for the conversation, when the telephone rang. The dialogue was pleasant, though there was very little small talk. You see, the woman, whom I had never met, was inviting me to become part of her life in a very personal way. She had inoperable cancer, and had been given six months to live. She wanted me to help her set her house in order and make plans for her funeral.

She was a brave soul and a true light. It was a blessing to get to know her. She left me many fond memories. In fact, I’m still amazed at how she embraced the horrible news of her impending death as an opportunity that few people have. Her last days truly were some of her best days!

Lord willing, I’ll write more about this special lady at some point in the future. Right now, though, I’m wondering how each one of us would respond if we were confronted with the news of terminal illness?

Please don’t think that I’m trying to pull you down with morbid thoughts. In reality, our lives are but a vapor that appears for a while and then it is gone. None of us is certain we will be here another month, or week, or even a day.

It would probably do us all some good to ponder the question James poses: What is your life? More to the point: How would you respond, if you found yourself in the position of the woman mentioned above? What if you learned tomorrow that you had but six short months to live?

This is the perspective the psalmist prayed God would give him. He said, “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Psalm 39:4-5).

Thus, contemplating life’s numbered days can and should be a positive experience. If you are so inclined, perhaps the following questions will be of some assistance. If you knew you only had six months to live…


How would you start each day?

What would be your first priority in each day?

How would your prayer life be changed?

Would worship take on new meaning?

What relationships would matter most to you?

What would you do just for fun?

What would you look for in others?

What fences would you mend?

With whom would you make peace?

Would you have apologies to offer?

To whom would you apologize?

For what would you apologize?

What bridges would you build?

Whom would you forgive?

What grudges would you release?

What books would you read?

What books would you read again?

Would you want to write anything?

What would you write?

Whom would you write?

How would you spend your time?

With whom would you spend your time?

How would you spend your money?

What unfinished business would you tend to?

What would you be more willing to give?

To whom would you give it?

To whom would you show a special measure of love?

With whom would you just have to share your faith?

Would you walk away from an argument?

Would you take time to walk hand-in-hand with loved ones?

What burdens would you no longer carry?

What words would you eliminate from your vocabulary?

What thoughts would you refuse to dwell on?

How would you end each day?

There is no doubt that more questions—different questions—could be, perhaps, should be asked. Hopefully these have been spiritually stimulating and have encouraged you to consider, “What is your life?”

© Bill Williams

June 12, 2006

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Fiction, Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Life, Personal, Spirituality & Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to What Is Your Life? x

  1. James Jones says:

    Great thoughts, Bill. When I ministered in Durham, NC, I was constantly reminded of the very things you addressed. Sadly, it is easy to lose sight of these things when you are not reminded of the temporary nature of this life on a regular basis. Thanks for the jolt.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words, James. Hope you will come back often.

    Different ministry roles bring us unique challenges and opportunities, don’t they? Very early in my career, when I ministered in a small Oklahoma church, for example, I conducted an average of four funerals per month. This was an “education” within itself.

    Blessings to you and yours!

  3. Wonderful thoughts, Bill. This is really a call to adopt an eternal perspective rather than the temporal one we are so accustomed to. What an important shift in our view of life.

    Thanks for stopping by my site again, too.


  4. Steve says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Bill. I just went through a similar experience with one of our church family and have the funeral service tonight. He was a wonderful Christian man with a gold heart who loved people of all walks. He died in his early 60’s. Gives one much time for reflection and thought.


  5. Greg England says:

    First, I am impressed with your use of the word "whom." It's amazing how many people, educated people with doctoral degrees, misuse "who" and "whom."

    Great reminder! I was planning to post a blog this week on the need for us to better prepare our families for our demise. I may link this post and then make a couple of suggestions, as this post bears out so much of what I wanted to say.

    Being in the funeral business, even to the limited degree that I am, I see where those moments with funeral director to plan out the service could be so much easier on the family had the deceased just taken no more than an hour to write down some things.

  6. Thanks, Becky, Steve and Greg, for dropping by and adding your excellent thoughts! Grace to you and yours, -bill

  7. Dee Andrews says:

    That IS an impressive use of the word whom, Bill. Makes me realize that although I thought I was already very careful in using who and whom correctly, I’ve probably incorrectly used who when it should have been whom in the same kind of sentence structure you used here.

    Greg’s picking right up on that is impressive in and of itself. So, Greg, here’s a nod to you, as well!

    Well – now that Miss Who’s Who in English 4 times over in that elect group of Abernathy High School students lo those many years ago has admitted to grammatical failings on occasion, maybe she can get down to the more important questions raised here today.

    Bill – you ask what I counted to be 35 questions for all of us to consider if we should find out we only have six months left to live. They are excellent questions that we all should read over and over, contemplate and try to assimilate into our daily lives.

    I had a very similar single question posed to me over on my blog a few months ago that I answered, covering many of the same aspects as your 35 questions do here, so I’ll give you the link to that below rather than trying to answer all of your questions here, again.

    But here’s a bit of what I said – to peak your interest in the rest of my answer, perhaps.
    My blogging buddy TCS asked me five questions that I answered and the last one was this:

    “Last, if money, health, etc. were no concern, what would you do with your time?”

    Here that tidbit of what I answered and why:

    “I’m not sure now how long ago exactly I came to have this perspective, but at some point in my life at least 10 years ago, if not longer, I came to understand that all the time any of us has – and I mean all of us, including every one of you who are reading this – EVERY ONE – every one who is living today on this earth, wherever that might be, without exception, only has today. This day. 24 hours. If that.

    That’s it.

    That being the case, whatever my circumstances, however I am feeling physically, emotionally, mentally, however things are healthwise, wealthwise or any other wise, I would spend all my time doing exactly what I am doing right now today. I wouldn’t change a thing I’m already currently, today, doing.

    That’s because . . .”

    And I go on to give the reasons I do what I do all day every day, how I incorrectly viewed all of these things as a Christian for the majority of my life, how I always felt I was totally and completely inadequate as a person (Christian), how I worried about where exactly I would be and if I would be engaged in the exact right things in life at the time of my death (as in, I thought the “ultimate” Christian was probably doing mission work in China while I was just stuck at home in some small podunk town raising three kids) and how I came to have a better, more mature understanding that was very freeing for me.

    If you’d like to read my entire answer, you’ll find it here. I don’t know about all of you, but for me it was a great revelation to discover I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right here where I am.

    Since I answered that question, I’ve gone on to ask it of a good many people around me. I was asked by our shepherds to put together interview questions, to interview our shepherds and ministers, to write them up and do the layouts and edits for our new Tammany Oaks website (here) and that was one of the questions I asked each of them. Each one gave me a different answer, of course, which is how it should be, I think.

    Very good post and thoughtful questions we should all take to heart. Thanks, Bill.

  8. Dee Andrews says:

    So – what’s with the comment awaiting moderation, Bill? Am I getting too long winded for you and you’re rebeling after I said yesterday that preachers shouldn’t preach sermons longer than 20 minutes, perhaps? ha!

  9. Dee: You are now cleared for landing. My spam-o-matic filter is set to trap comments that contain more than two hyperlinks. If there was a way to set exceptions, I would do so just for you! You are certainly an exceptional person. I very much look forward to reading your comments. Thanks, also, for the links in your recent post. Keep those insightful comments coming!

  10. dojo says:

    This was a very thought provoking post. We should all live our lives like we were dying (because we are), but we forget or at least I do….

    Dee suggested I read your blog and invite you to one that I have started. I think you can click on my name and get there. Would love to have you stop by…..I will be back by here!

  11. Deb says:

    When my mother was dying, in her very early 50’s, with my two youngest brothers still in high school, she told me how valuable it was to have an outlook on just one day at a time. We sometimes live our lives preparing for and waiting for an adventure to happen. The time spent in that can last months and years. But for Mother, each day spent without having another needle poked in her, or having to have her lungs drained was an adventure in focusing on things new and different — items which in the past were possibly put off or laid to the side until ‘just the right time’.

    As Mother was a woman of tremendous faith and strength, she seemed to graciously know how accept each new daily gift. I have not yet been handed a life sentence, or told to get my things in order. When Jesus hands me a daily package, if I can honour her example, I can’t wait to open it! 🙂

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