A few years ago, I started asking myself what I would do If I were about to enter the final minute of my life.
The first time I did so I was sitting in a Starbucks in Vero Beach, Fl. The one that is located on U.S. 1, in the Publix plaza parking lot. Starbucks was a second home when we moved to Vero and planted Pillar Community Church. It, and other local coffee houses, served as my office for the first four to five years of the ministry.
On this particular morning, Starbucks was filled with people. As I observed folks coming in and out, I found myself passing subtle judgments. You know, judgments like,
“That’s not a coffee drink . . . it’s a soft-serve ice cream sundae laced with peppermint-cocoa flavoring,” Or
“Wow, you wore that in public?” Or
“Good grief, do you really need that much space? Can’t you see that people are standing around waiting for a place to sit?”
I was clearly feeling a sense of “I am better-than-you are” as I sat hunched in a small corner, at a small table, sipping on my dark-roast black coffee for the morning.
I the midst of these thoughts, I suddenly wondered, “What would I do If Jesus showed up and said, ‘Okay son, it’s time to go. Pack it up and come with me.’?”
I found myself stumbling to explain my thoughts to Him and wondering what I would say if that did happen!?!?
So, I decided to re-enact those sixty seconds and live as if these would be the last sixty seconds of my life.
A funny thing happened. The thoughts I was having ceased. New thoughts emerged. They were powerful thoughts. I didn’t wonder why people ordered what they were ordering, sat where they were sitting, or wore what they were wearing. Rather, I began to ask myself, “What should I do with the time I have remaining?” or “How should I spend these final moments of my life?”
On that morning I began a new spiritual practice or rhythm that I call “living as if I am in the last sixty seconds of my life.” As one who believes our practices and habits shape our behaviors, this one has been fascinating.
The time constraint of sixty seconds, while challenging, prevents the hysteria of trying to fix all I’ve broken even as it invites me to consider where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, said, and done and challenges me to spend my final seconds well! The time limitation is challenging on so many levels.
So, when I practice “living as if I am in the last sixty seconds of my life,” I find myself going through a quick but meaningful internal catalog of my dearest loves in this life.
After thinking about them, I give thanks for them.
I am humbled every time.
There have been times when I’ve caught myself feeling a need to fix what I’ve broken, unsay what I’ve said, or un-see what I’ve seen. But I don’t have time to do any of that so I offer a simple confession to my Father and invite His son to do for me what I cannot do for myself (again).
Then, with whatever time remains, I usually try to offer a smile or word of encouragement to someone nearby and, in my own way, share some of the light that Christ has so generously shared with me.
Suddenly, my time is up.
My final sixty seconds are over.
And that’s when the real fun begins. The practice itself reminds me of what a precious gift time is and how grateful I should be for this life I live. It serves to remind me of the generous grace of our Father, the Holy love of His Son, and the empowering influence of His Spirit.
In short, the practice generates joy, gratitude, and a renewed sense of sharing the good news Gospel of the With-God-Life that Jesus preached and makes possible. It’s the news that experiencing and enjoying life with God is possible now.!
And, of course, there have been times when the practice has surfaced some things left unsaid and undone that God, in His grace, gives me the chance to address and bring into the light of His Gospel.
Most of all, the practice shines a light on how often I fail to live as if it’s the last sixty seconds of my life. It’s stunning, really. Particularly given the Bible’s thorough and consistent persistence that we take note of the time we are given and take stock of how we are living!
From beginning to end, the Bible is full of encouragement to wake up to the presence of God and the light of Christ and then live as if that matters to everyone on the planet. A favorite of mine is found in Ephesians, where the writer (I believe it’s Paul, for what it’s worth) encourages us to buy back the time we are given and use it well.
In Ephesians 5:15-16 we read, ” Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+5&version=NRSV
In some small way, this practice of “living as if I am in the final sixty seconds of my life,” rekindles my desire to make the most of every moment. When I am “making the most of every moment,” I discover that my walk with Christ is more robust. and my life with others is more enriching.
You may want to try this one sometime. If you do, let me know what you discover.
Hoping this blog will serve to help you awaken and be attentive to the eternal life now present and possible in Christ!
Grace and peace,