I cringe as I say it, because now it strikes me as a terribly arrogant thing to say. Growing up, I was convinced that something bad was going to happen to me at some point in my life. I was going to go blind, I was going to get diagnosed with an incurable disease, I was going to fight an epic battle against orcs and die trying to save my comrades … Okay, so maybe not the last one.
I’ll admit it sounds kinda weird and just a little silly. Don’t ask me why I was convinced, I just was. It’s not that I was fascinated with suffering or wanted to die or anything like that, but I knew even then that there were things I was willing to give my life for, and I thought that somehow God would give me joy in the midst of suffering. And by George, I thought I was ready. (Those of you who are a mite older and wiser are already shaking your heads at me.)
Some of y’all know that I was in a pretty rough car accident this past summer—you can read a little bit about it here, though I was on pretty strong pain meds when I wrote that post, so … be forewarned. Once the adrenaline started to wear off, and I emerged from the first of several surgeries, I remember laying in a hospital bed, replaying the accident over and over, recalling every thought, every feeling, every moment of fear, and realizing that it was only by God’s grace I had survived.
I could have died. Just like that.
And that thought just about knocked me down and stole the breath from my lungs. I was horrified to discover that I wasn’t quite as ready to die and trade this earthly life for a heavenly existence as I’d hoped and imagined. It wasn’t that I was afraid of dying in and of itself. In Christ I know that I have an eternal hope that lasts beyond the grave, and nothing can take that hope from me. It was the quickness of it. It was the knowledge that my life could have been snuffed out in a split second. And it was the fear that at the end of the day the full sum and total of my time on this earth amounted to very little.
It was the realization that I have squandered so much of the time I have been given. So many hours poured into entertainment, wasted on my own desires, spilt in selfishness. Too often we put off the things we know we should be doing so we can enjoy ourselves now, imagining that there will be time enough to deal with them later. It was the knowledge that I hadn’t yet lived to the fullest the life I wanted to live for Christ on earth before being called home.
To me, it was a stunning revelation and a heartbreaking one.
I read A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes a few months after my car accident and found it extremely thought provoking in light of my recent awakening. If you’re not familiar with the story, Parvin Blackwater lives in a world where everyone has a clock that counts down the time until their death. With one year left to live, Parvin believes she has wasted her life and sets out to live her final days with meaning and purpose. Unlike Parvin, I don’t know how many hours remain in my life, nor how many days or months or years … nor would I want to. But I do know that I don’t want to waste the time allotted to me. I don’t want to face my death with the same feelings of time wasted and hours misspent.
When all is said and done, I know it is not what I have done but what Christ has done for me. But I also know that the time I have been given is a gift and each breath I draw comes from His hand, and I sure don’t want to waste it. It is far too easy to live only for the here and now. It is far too easy to revel in the momentary pleasures. It is far more difficult to live a life of meaning and purpose. A life dedicated to something greater, to bringing glory to the One who created us. But when the hour of my death comes, the words I desire above all else to hear are “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
“All my life I’ve wondered what my purpose is. Today, I realize with a twist in my gut, that all my wondering and waiting hindered me from seeking a purpose. I could have done so much more if I’d braved intentionality sooner.” – A Time to Die, Nadine Brandes
How about you? How do you want to live your life?
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for A Time to Die!