Did you know that statistically, one hundred years from now, almost everyone on this planet will have died? That includes me and you and everyone we know—we will all be a memory. It sounds crazy but it's very real. A whole new group of people will be on the earth.
Right now you might think that talking about death is a little weird. Why would anyone think about that kind of statistic? As odd as it may sound, death is part of life for me. I've been both a hospital and a hospice chaplain, and my primary responsibility is to provide emotional and spiritual counseling to patients and their families confronting death. Being a missionary kid likely led me to that profession. It's a gift to share compassion with people, and dealing with death on a regular basis gives me an appreciation for life and keeps at the forefront of my mind the One who gives life—Jesus Christ.
Any of us could face death at any time, but it is not only physical death that we should contemplate. It is the fact that we need to be alive spiritually and emotionally while we are here on earth. What do I mean by that? There’s an old saying, “I’ll take it to the grave.” It refers to someone keeping a secret, one of their own or someone else's, even to their death. Here is the question: What will we all really take to the grave, and what will we not?
Many of the older men and women I’ve spoken with in their last days had been carrying baggage of regrets—the ‘would-have, could-have, should-haves’ of life. Spending more time with their loved ones was always at the top of the list, as well as taking more time to stop and enjoy the little things and fixing broken relationships.
My purpose was to help them unpack the baggage and move into peace. Sometimes there were beautiful moments of forgiveness and reconciliation, but there wasn't always way to wrap everything up in a movie-type ending. Life is tough sometimes, and so is death. When those tough moments happened, the focus became letting go of regret, bitterness, and unforgiveness, and sometimes that meant forgiving themselves.
Those are the things I encourage you to unpack now, not to take to the grave with you. If you need counseling to help you, do it. Get help to have the tough conversations now so you can make the most of this life, however long.
Christ promises when we shed those things that weigh us down—those secrets—He will not remember them ever again. He will send them as far away as the east is from the west. That's a promise you can take with you now and forevermore.