“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
One way to get a heart of wisdom is to learn from people more experienced from you and take to heart lessons they learned. There was a sociological study done several years ago that aimed at doing just that. This asked 50 people over the age of 95 this important question:
“If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?”
The question was left open-ended and a variety of answers poured in. After analyzing the results, sociologists found something very surprising.
Three answers constantly reemerged and dominated the study’s results:
1. If I could do it all over again, I would reflect more.
2. If I could do it all over again, I would risk more.
3. If I could do it all over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.1
It is striking that these three thoughts (or really regrets) were common among the group–which is to say that we will probably feel the same way if we live to 95. When I’m 95, I don’t want to look back with regret. I want to look back in thankful victory of what God did in me and through me and give praise to His Name for my life.
I’m not sure that study had any ties to Christianity, but I do know that each of the answers are right in line with what Scripture has said all along. Here are a few thoughts on this study relating to the Christian faith:
Scripture gives us many commands to reflect, remember, and meditate on what God has done (for starters, see Deuteronomy 8 and Psalm 1). We are often so busy with our lives that we constantly are thinking of the needs of the present instead of learning from the lessons of the past.
Snap out of that habit. Live a reflective life that learns from mistakes, gives thanks to God for victories, and cultivates desires to live your remaining days with greater intentionality and purpose. One practical way I reflect is by journaling about experiences and relationships and then praying over them that God would teach me what He wants to from them. As the years go by (and assuming I keep up with that discipline 😉 ), I can look back at all the Lord has taught me along the way.
Being a Christian is risky business. I sometimes feel like I can only see one step ahead of me on the narrow path and that each step is both a risk and a call to trust God by renouncing my own comfort. Each step is a risk!
While we should count the cost of risks we take, we would be fools not to also count the immeasurable gain we will receive from the rewards Christ promises. The passage below makes it clear that a life without risk and sacrifice for the Lord will be a life lost, while a life full of doing ‘risky’ things for the Lord and the gospel’s sake will save it. The only real risk is to not deny yourself and lose your life because that is what leads to a lost life. Put Christ and the gospel first in your life and follow wherever He leads you–it would be risky not to.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:34-36
The Christian long-term outlook goes beyond 95 years to all of eternity. We are to store up our treasure not on earth, but in heaven. God values different things than what humans naturally value. He alone is the only One who can (and will) test our works and thoughts in light of eternity. Don’t be like the rich fool of Luke 12:12-21 who lived for this present life by hoarding food in larger and larger barns. He laid up treasure for Himself but was not rich towards God–and paid the price.
Do you live more for the cares of this present life or for the life to come? Being too earthly-minded will forfeit your kingdom usefulness and choke out your faith (Mark 4:19). Don’t live your life in a way that you will regret in eternity–give Christ your all and live for the eternal glory of the One who redeemed you.
“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:4
1 – Found in Leadership 101 by John Maxwell
Image courtesy of MattysFlicks