My mother died at the beginning of this year at the age of 81. She was a happy wife of a very loyal husband. She was a serving mother of four children who shared with her our deepest hurts and our greatest dreams. She joyfully hosted guests in our home, taught the ladies Bible class, and stood at the very heart of our family.
My mother lived a life with no regrets. And so, I read with great interest, an article that was published the day following my mother’s death. It was written by Susie Steiner and appeared in the Guardian Weekly, a British newspaper. It is the story of an Australian nurse, Bronnie Ware, who spent several years caring for patients during the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying thoughts in her blog and eventually published a book entitled The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying.
Ware noticed the remarkable clarity that people seem to gain at the end of their lives, and she identified several lessons that we can learn from their insight.
She writes, “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again.” Here are the top five regrets of the dying that Ware observed:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. This was the most common regret, realizing how many dreams had gone unfulfilled. In essence they were all saying that health offers the opportunity to pursue our dreams, until that health is gone. Most wished they had acted when they were younger and healthier.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. This came from every male patient that Ware cared for. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship as they spent their lives on “the treadmill of a work existence. ”
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. In order to keep peace with others many had suppressed their feelings. Some had even developed illnesses due to the bitterness and resentment they carried deep inside. Looking back, they wished they had been more open.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Many would think about old friends in their final weeks and would even try to track them down. There were many regrets about not giving these relationships more time and effort over the years.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. Surprisingly many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. Old habits, the comfort of familiarity, and the fear of change kept them stuck in unhappy routines, while deep inside, they longed for a deeper joy. They discovered that it had always been available, but they had not chosen it.
When I read this list of regrets it brought two thoughts to mind.
First, these stories of regret remind me that my journey of faith, modeled by my mother, can be filled with great joy and end with no regret.
Second, I am grateful that God helped my mother to discover her dreams and live a happy life. She was surrounded by great friends and by a loving family. Both she and my dad worked hard, but they also played hard. She lived a long and full life that took her to several very different parts of our great country, ranging from the sand storms of west Texas, to the swamps of southern Louisiana, to the lake-effect snows of upper Michigan, just to name a few. In each place she built a warm home, made good friends, and experienced joy and fulfillment.
I miss her greatly, but I know that her journey here prepared her to live in a place where regret does not exist.
It’s one thing to look back and regret the direction your life is going. It’s easy to make a list of regrets. But it’s another thing to look at the present and the future with hope. God offers hope. Can you name your greatest regret so far? If you can, then you can begin now taking steps to change it.
There are 22 going with us to Israel in November and we still have a few open spots.
Here’s the tour link - http://www.fowlertours.com/pdf/4580.pdf
Here’s a video tease -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPQI6Y …
Walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Experience a sunrise over the Sea of Galilee. Visit ongoing archeological sites. See the breathtaking vista from the top of Masada. Take a boat ride out on the Sea of Galilee. Enjoy a quiet moment in the Garden of Gethsemane. See desolate mountains, sparkling springs, ancient cities, and blend each day of travel with a customized devotional guide written by Bob that will combine the sites of the day with the stories from scripture. Whether you have been a Christian a few days or for many decades, this will be a life-changing, unforgettable experience. Space is limited so reserve a spot soon.
November 6-16, 2012 – Fly from Dallas, Texas
For more information contact:
Bob Chisholm at 972-233-2392
or Fowler Tours at 1-800-747-5670
Years ago I heard Landon Saunders say:
It’s not inhuman to fail.
It’s inhuman to deny that you fail.
That’s failing at failure.
His words are helpful because they remind me that I always have a choice as to how I will respond to my mistakes. Will I allow them to bring a final, fatal end to my spiritual growth. Or, will I trust that God can forgive and accomplish his purpose in my life in spite of my failure.
Failures aren’t failures
if you learn something from them.
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh -
Good people are good
because they’ve come to wisdom through failure.
- William Saroyan -
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again,
- Henry Ford -
I’ve failed over and over again …
that is why I succeeded.
- Michael Jordan -
God has entrusted great tasks
to those who have handled great failure.
- Landon Saunders -
It is true that we are all created in the image of God. But it is also true that we fall short of that image — we fail, we sin. But failure is not final because …
It points out our “blind spots” and redirects our energies. It answers questions, offers new options, and prevents further failure. Ask any sports figure, scientist, or teacher. The education that failure brings offers the opportunity to begin again.
Confessing failure cultivates humility in us and reminds us to be tolerant and forgiving of the failures of others. Alexander Pope wrote, “Some people will never learn anything … because they understand everything too soon.” Humility will always be helpful, especially in the lives of the arrogant. But sometimes it takes failure to bring humility in a life.
Falling short of expectations does not have to be a reason to quit. It could provide the challenge and motivation to go on. After all, the original goal still stands. It is still worth pursuing. The only difference is that now your focus is sharper and the way is clearer.
FAILURE HAS AN ANSWER
Failure’s most important lesson is our great need for forgiveness. God created us clean and he can make us clean again. He has not given up on us and it is an insult to the image of God that we wear to give up on ourselves.
So, let us learn from our mistakes and, with a greater sense of humility and clarity, let us accept God’s forgiveness and move forward in the power of his grace.
God made Him who had no sin
to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become
the righteousness of God
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 -
I read of a linguist who translated a portion of the Bible into a tribal dialect and then left a man with the task of teaching the people to read. The linguist returned months later to find three students and the teacher seated around a table dilengently learning. Each was reading, but the page with the translated text was never moved. And so,one had learned to read the text sideways. Another also read it sideways, but from the other side. And a third read it upside down. You see, they always sat in the same chairs. And each, from their own particular vantagepoint, thought the text was written one way.
It’s so easy to see something from only point of view. We may even think it’s the only valid viewpoint.
Is there room for diversity? Is there room for discussion and change? How many are willing to rethink and reconsider?
Sometimes it’s a good idea to simply change seats.
I really like the thoughtful writing of Ken Gire. Here is a piece from his, Windows of the Soul. It gave me a good start to my day.
It is, I suppose, possible to speak of the soul without speaking of God, just as it is possible to tour a cathedral without stopping to worship. Most of us, though, have taken that tour. And for most of us, it’s not enough.
The pursuit of self is what most of us have been doing for much of our lives, even our spiritual lives. But the self is a cul-de-sac, and eventually we end up where we started. Footsore and just as frustrated, just as unfulfilled. Feeling we’re a failure, or worse, a fraud.
The pursuit of soul, if soul is all we’re pursuing, is not much different. It’s a longer walk down a nicer street, but the street is still a cul-de-sac, and in the end, regardless how invigorating the walk, it doesn’t lead beyond the neighborhood of who we are.
… We long for something more than a routine walk around the religious block. We long for the companionship of God. We long for the assurance that we are not taking this journey alone. That He is walking with us and talking with us and intimately involved in our lives.
This new year, as you begin again, don’t just take the tour. Stop and worship.
Many of us grew up with a heavy dose of heaven hymnology.
Sing To Me Of Heaven
When We All Get To Heaven
In The Sweet By And By
Beyond The Sunset
Face To Face With Christ My Savor
There’s A Land That Is Fairer Than Day
To Canaan’s Land I’m On My Way
There Is A Habitation
Great songs, and for some, heaven is thought of as the natural conclusion and climax to a life filled with a growing faith, lived for God here on planet earth. But sadly for others, this longing for a future home in heaven is not really connected to life here in the present world. Habits remain the same. Plans for each day are not altered by a developing faith. Speech, relationships, behavior do not surrender to the spiritual leadership of Jesus. In fact, once the “salvation” ticket is punched, life continued on just as it has been, with little or no growth or change.
A friend of mine once asked the question, “What’s the difference between a man with ten years of experience and a man with one year of experience, ten times?” The answer? The man with tens year of experience actually grew each year. There was a slow but steady change in his life as one year built upon the progress of the previous year. But the man with one year of experience, ten times, just repeated his first year over and over. There was no real change. He was in a rut. He probably hated it, but as we sometimes say, “He had become adjusted to his rut.” It was familiar, even comfortable in a twisted sort of way. I think that popular writer Brian McLaren had the first man in mind when he said,
The Gospel is not an evacuation plan
but a transformation plan
Other, much older writers follow the same line of thought.
Heaven is not to be looked upon
only as the reward,
but as the natural effect
of a religious life.
– Joseph Addison
The main object of religion
is not to get a man into Heaven;
but to get Heaven into him.
– Thomas Hardy
Do not conform any longer
to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind.
– Romans 12:2
Will heaven be a ticket that I purchase and then put away until the day that I have to pull it out at the end of my life? Or, will heaven be the next logical, seamless step in a life that has been constantly growing and changing since the first day that God’s grace entered? Is your faith an evacuation plan or a transformation plan?