I was in the woods not long ago, making my way to a trout stream, and stepped on a few bones that had once belonged to some small creature. It had apparently been there for quite some time as they were all bleached white from being exposed to the elements. It looked to be the remains of a rabbit by the fur that was all around, and it made me wonder what had happened here. The thought crossed my mind, “how had the animal died”? Even more interesting to me was the idea that the bones and fur which remained actually defined how had it lived.
Whenever I come across things like this it is a sober reminder that ultimately we all end up just like that rabbit. Every one of you reading this blog will eventually be just a pile of silent bones. However, every life is a process and what we leave behind may often be a lot more than we have considered. That reality can be either good or bad, depending on how well we have lived the life we have been given.
Several months ago I did a funeral for a very dear friend and fellow minster. He was 85 and had lived a rich, well-rounded life as both a teacher and a minister. He touched a lot of lives in his classroom, and served God with all his heart in our congregation. However, as he was nearing death there were things he wanted me to take care of. Some were very personal and some were very practical, but it was clear to me he wanted to wrap them all up before it was too late. In other words, he needed me to help him make sure nothing was left behind that he would regret.
A week or so before he died, he called me on the phone and asked that I come to his bedside. When I arrived at his home he immediately shooed his wife out of the room. I pulled a chair up beside him and waited as he composed himself to share the secrets of his life and heart. During that two hours he began to bare his soul about regrets he had and mistakes he had made. Most of all he had a deep desire for his family to be united and going to the same church. This had actually happened at one point a few years earlier. However, a demonic deceiver in our congregation brought a division to the family and because of him, the family was split and some had left the church.
Our conversation touched me deeply and we both wept and prayed until he found the peace to let it all go into God’s hands. What really got to me was his concern for all the things that were left undone. Some were taken care of that very day, while others are still in process. There were things he asked me to throw out that he deemed “unsavory”, but others would never give a second thought to. There were requests to be his voice to his family at his funeral in hopes of exposing the lie that had divided them. And… there was the request to keep praying for his family until there was unity. The bottom line was simple. I wanted him to die knowing all his request would be honored and everything left undone would be taken care of.
What has been left undone in your life? If you were to die today, are there things that would be left behind you would be embarrassed or sad about? Have you put off certain tasks that really need to be taken care of? Why not make a “to do” list and post it where you will see it and pray over it daily. Put on it the things you always needed to do, or planned to do, but just never got around to. Enlist the help of others like my friend did, if necessary. Just do whatever is necessary while you still can. You might be amazed at how life changes as you check things off your list. Best of all you will find peace and be really happy about the things you are leaving behind.
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