What if you only had six months to live?

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

QuestionsThe phone rang. Caller ID told me it was her. Even though her daughter told me she would call that afternoon, nothing could have fully prepared for the conversation. 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, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreath; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.” (Psalm 39:4-5, NIV).

Thus, contemplating life’s numbered days can and should be a positive experience. 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 stimulating and have encouraged you to seriously consider this penetrating question: What is your life?

© Bill Williams
May 5, 2015