My church has faithfully prayed for me ever since I was diagnosed with cancer 21 years ago. Yes, my name has appeared on the prayer list almost weekly. “Most people on the church prayer list either get well…or die… yet I have not managed to do either!” When I made that statement to the congregation at a Wednesday service, I was intentionally trying to be funny; and from their response, I was successful. Everyone laughed.
I went on to share by way of an update to these dear ones who have prayed so faithfully that there is every indication there will not be another 21 years. Laughter? In the face of death? Absolutely! To me, this is a great manifestation of the grace and mercy of God. How wonderful that my loving heavenly father allows me to bring laughter even while coming to grips once again with my own mortality. Just because I may be suffering does not mean that everyone around me has to suffer as well!
Thus has begun in my spirit a subtle but very real transition from this life to the next. In what I believe was a providentially directed birthday gift from a friend, I have been reading Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. Her insightful writing held up to the test of Scripture is helping me determine how I want to live the rest of my life. Jean wrote a prayer that my heart echoes:
“Father, dear Father, only You know how many days I have left on earth and what joys, opportunities, and challenges are ahead for me. I give myself to You again. Lord God, I want my remaining days to be days of ascent, days of learning You and knowing You better. Bless me and guard me for the day I make my final ascent into Your presence. Please don’t leave me to myself.”
For my remaining days, I want to live intentionally and on purpose. What does this look like? I am still learning! The intentional life is not moving from one high point to the next but requires enduring the mundane everyday stresses of life. Not every moment, even in your last days, is an emotional high. I am learning to make memories…not haste. Instead of acquiring things, I am acquiring experiences. This past Christmas, one of my daughters-in-love said to my son, her husband, “I don’t think your mother wants things for Christmas. I think she wants experiences.” And she was exactly right. In his love and generosity, God gave our family a most memorable Christmas.
Living intentionally means that I keep moving forward with purpose in the path God has directed. I have struggled with thoughts like “What’s the use? I’m going to die soon. Why bother building a business?” Living intentionally means not giving up on a dream but continuing to pursue a speaking and coaching career and enduring all the ups and downs of entrepreneurship! Doing so even with the knowledge that I won’t be able to do it for very long.
Standing before my church family I had to report that based on the latest CT scan, progress was being made – progress towards Heaven. Even though there is a very real sense that I am closing in on my last days, my faith is strong, my hope is secure. We keep ascending…to greater heights in Christ Jesus. In the meantime, I choose to live intentionally by growing in Christ and leaving a legacy of good deeds and encouragement.
The Lord be praised!