Suppose, just a few minutes, that I were to learn positively that this next year was going to be my last. Three hundred and sixty-five days are all that I have left; then my life would suddenly be brought to an end. How do you think that this fact would affect the way I live the last days of my life? Or put yourself in that same place, what would you do with only one more year to live? Or of more importance perhaps is, how would that last year differ from the way the un-godly world would spend it? Would there be that much of a difference? Would you say all through that last year, “To God be the glory,” or, “Let’s eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”?
It seems to me that one of the first things I would want to do is come up with a plan on how to make the best use of the time left. I would want no wasted days. With only one year left my whole sense of values would take a drastic change. Things which I formerly ignored or considered of little or no importance would suddenly take on a new urgency. And things which seemed to be so important just a few days before would lose all sense of value. With the hope of a long life gone, certain responsibilities would be forced upon me. I could ignore them no longer.
In the first place, as a Christian, I would want to reaffirm my salvation. It seems to me that I would stop being a nominal Christian. I would stop hoping vaguely that somehow things would turn out all right. I would not rest until there was complete assurance in my heart that my sins were forgiven, and that Jesus Christ was my Lord and Saviour. I would not want to half-guess my salvation with death only a year away.
I also believe that during that last year I would draw closer to God than ever before and give myself totally to Him. The reading of His Word and my prayer life would take up much more meaning and time than ever before. I would want this last year to be the most God-blessed one of my life.
Once the central question of my salvation was answered, my thoughts would turn to those I would leave behind. I would do all that I possibly could to see that the needs of my family were taken care of after my death.
This would include both their material and spiritual needs. And one of my priorities would be to get them all involved in church life as never before. And I would find peace in knowing that the church would be there ready to supply all their needs on this earth.
There would be no time for fighting or arguing with family or friends either. Their salvation would be of the utmost importance to me. And I would pray that when my last year was over I could go to glory with the assurance that my family members had all acknowledged God as their Lord and Saviour.
I could also imagine conversations that lasted long into the night. There would be no reason to keep my hopes and fears a secret from others. I could be completely honest with them and they in turn could do the same with me.
I would want this last year to count as much as possible for God. And I think each one of us would stand amazed at just how much glory and grace God could put into each of our lives.
One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament has always been the account of the life of Samson. And God did just that with him. Samson rose to such heights of blessing. He was able to accomplish more in one last act of sacrifice than he had done during his whole life previously.
If I had but one year to live, I would not get caught up in trivial differences between the people I cared about. I would want to surround myself with family and friends. The term the communion of the saints would take on a whole new and exciting meaning for me. And I certainly could not afford to spend any time in gossip or lies about others.
And finally, I would want to get caught up on my thanksgiving and praise. I would be in church twice every Sunday.
I would repent of my ingratitude and recall the many, many blessings I have taken so much for granted.
I would thank God for the many friends I have. I would be the first to admit that there have been a few times when they have mistreated me; but for the most part people have treated me with far more kindness and consideration than I have deserved. And I would try to express this to them in the year I had left.
One can only speculate on just what each of us would do if we were placed in just this situation, just one year to live. All of the points mentioned above would seem to me to be at least a beginning of what we as Christians would want to do. You could add much more to the list. But we do not know just how long we have left on this earth before God calls us home. Whether we have a year or a day, or more only God knows. And since what would be right for that last year could also be right for our whole life, even if it’s many, many years, then the conclusion ought to be plain.
From our point of view, we must live each day that God gives us as if it may be our last. Remember Moses who prayed “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 Moses prayed that God would help him make the best use of the days, months, and the years he had left. If Moses had a need to pray such a prayer, how much more shouldn’t we find that same need. We all should live in just such a way so that when God does call us home, we can go with no regrets of things that we wished we had done.