One of the most influential pastors in my life is Dee Duke, pastor of Jefferson Baptist Chuch. He’s been preaching a sermon series entitled “One Month to Live” for the past four or five months (he’s not afraid of a long sermon series).
I’ve not yet listened to more than a few of the sermons, but I find the thought provocative. Would I live differently if I knew that I had only 30 days left to live?
Pastors have often preached about how you should live if this was your last day before you died, or Jesus returned? I suppose you might call all the people you never really witnessed to properly, or perhaps you’d write a really top-notch statement to be read at your funeral. Maybe you’d borrow a lot of money and spend it all on a day of self-indulgence, or you might spend the day setting right any wrongs you had done. You could probably do without sleep if you really knew it was your last day — indeed, for a short time, you could probably make all sorts of temporary changes.
But if you knew you were going to live just 30 days more, you’d still need to sleep, and eat. You’d likely continue many of your everyday habits, like showering and brushing your teeth and eating healthily — who wants to go around with grimy teeth for 29 days? On the plus side, thirty days is enough to actually accomplish some things that couldn’t be done in a single day. For that reason, I think this way of thinking is more helpful than supposing you had only one more day.
In Isaiah 38, the story of King Hezekiah’s illness is told, in which he is told by the prophet that he is going to die. Hezekiah appeals to God, and is given another 15 years. I never thought of it this way, but I suppose Hezekiah probably kept track. At first, 15 years probably seemed a lot of time, but eventually, it must have dropped to two years, then one, then six months, then only one month left to live. How would I react to the sure knowledge that I had only 30 days left?
Duke suggests that we might focus on these areas:
- Our relationship with God
- Our relationships with each other
- Our work or accomplishments for God
- What would I stop doing?
- Where am I going?
If you had only 30 days left to live, what would you do, how would you live?